I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Aflac. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.
Open enrollment, in a nut shell, is the period of time where you can change your insurance coverage options. The problem is that employers are scrambling to make all of these changes, and we have absolutely no idea how they will pan out. Nobody is really explaining what exactly will change. The majority of people do not understand the coverage changes, are unsure, and stick with the status quo, which could have a huge deductible and even cost more.
What the heck do I do?
Everyone will have a different situation, which can be based upon a multitude of things. Aflac has offered a few tips to employees to help you understand, skip the mistakes, and determine what to do for your family.
- Prepare ahead of time: Be aware of annual insurance policy changes and compare your new benefits package to your policy from the year before. Do your homework to ensure you choose the right policy that fits your needs and make sure that all of the health insurance costs you’re responsible for are within your budget. Also, review the deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for health care services and pharmacy purchases you’ll be responsible for paying to ensure your plan offers the coverage you need.
- Don’t make assumptions: Keep in mind that if your company hasn’t made any material changes to its health insurance plan since health care reform legislation was passed in 2010, it may be exempt for now from offering widely discussed essential health benefits, including free preventive services. Ask your HR manager if your policy options changed to include new benefits made available by health care reform.
- Check your spouse’s benefits package: Your employer doesn’t have to offer insurance to your spouse and as costs increase, more companies are cutting this option. Even if your employer does offer your spouse insurance, the company is not obligated to pay anything toward the premium. If your spouse has access to employer-sponsored health insurance through his or her job, it may make the most financial sense to purchase two individual policies as opposed to one family policy.
- Don’t double up: Health care reform legislation requires plans in the individual and small group markets to offer essential health benefits like pediatric vision and dental and, chronic disease management services. Check all aspects of your major medical plan so you know what is covered and what isn’t.
- Examine premium costs carefully: Cheaper isn’t always better, since plans with the lowest monthly premiums likely mean you’ll pay more in co-insurance and receive less coverage.
- Consider supplemental insurance such as accident, hospital or critical illness plans to help reduce rising health care expenses.
How will the open enrollment period affect me?
Take the time to educate yourself, do your homework. Communicate with your employer, ask questions, and take advantage of the resources that are available. Consider reading up on the it at Aflac’s Health Care Reform site, which I think is an excellent, straightforward resource that has a Health Care Reform communications tool kit, an employers guide, and health care insight information. Don’t get caught up in the insurance web, conquer it!