While the holiday season gets most of the hype around this time of year, open enrollment is also coming up and just as important. Like Christmas, it only comes around once a year allowing you to update or replace any existing coverage, and optimize any benefits your employer may provide.

Health insurance is usually a top concern at this time, but employees should also realize there’s a comprehensive list of potential benefits available to take advantage of. In the U.S., open enrollment season generally lasts anywhere from 2-6 weeks. During this time frame, employees can elect or change benefit options through their employer including health, dental, vision and life insurance along with 401(k) and HSA (Health Savings Account) plans. Some benefits are paid in full by the employer (also depending on the employer), while the costs are shared for others.

When you think about it, open enrollment is a great time to get all your benefits organized, reviewed, in one fell swoop. You’ll feel better going into the holiday season knowing that you and your loved ones have your health coverage, finances, and lives protected with the right benefits. Want to make the process as efficient as possible? Here’s a handy checklist you can follow to make sure you maximize all that open enrollment season may have to offer.

_____ Make sure you understand basic insurance terminology

It’s important to make sure you understand what your insurance policies include and can summarize them if needed. As a quick refresher here are some key terms you’ll need to know:

Premium: Often a fixed monthly payment to an insurance company to keep your policy active.

Deductible: The amount of money you pay for approved medical expenses before the healthcare plan begins to supplement the costs.

Coinsurance: Coinsurance is the amount that an individual pays for health services alongside the amount an insurance policy pays. Coinsurance is separate from a deductible.

_____ Review any major lifestyle changes and how it may affect your benefits

Did you recently get married? Buy a house, or have a child? These major lifestyle changes can affect your benefits and you may need to change coverage amounts and beneficiaries as a result.

_____ Review your previous benefits plan through your employer

If you’ve accepted benefits through your employer for the previous year, be sure to go over your elections to see if there’s any changes you need to make. Did you like the benefits or do you think you need to supplement anything? Did you feel like anything was too expensive compared to the coverage amount? Now is the time to make crucial changes.

_____ Ask about voluntary benefits

Do you know what voluntary benefits your employer offers and are you already opted in? If you’re not making use of those benefits, you may want to opt out.

_____ Consider obtaining supplemental life insurance.

There’s a good chance your employer’s life insurance benefit is not enough if they even offer one. This is where obtaining a supplemental policy can be helpful to ensure you and your family are fully protected. Visit Ethos to sign up to get a fast quote and sign up for supplemental life insurance

______ Determine your out-of-pocket costs.

If the benefits you obtain during open enrollment are only partially covered by your employer, you want to factor in how much it will cost you out of pocket and how this will affect your budget.

______ See if you qualify for tax breaks.

Getting a high deductible health plan may qualify you for a Health Savings Account which has generous tax benefits. If you contribute to your 401(k) through your employer, your contributions will also be tax deductible.

______ Discuss your options and thoughts with your partner.

Finally, you want to consult with your spouse to make sure you’re both on the same page and you choose the right benefits for your current and future needs.


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