Before You Finalize Your Open Enrollment Choices, Check Out These Tips
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The final months of the year aren’t just for turkey and mistletoe — they’re also when Americans take part in open enrollment for health insurance. No matter what type of plan you are enrolled in, it’s important to review your choices carefully to ensure you make the right ones.
Open enrollment is available for company-sponsored health plans, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Open enrollment dates for private insurance will vary by the plan and the employer. For Medicare, the open enrollment period began on Oct. 15, 2022, and runs through Dec. 7.
The open enrollment period for the ACA runs from Nov. 1, 2022, through Jan. 15, 2023, according to HealthCare.gov. If you don’t enroll by Jan. 15 you can’t get 2023 coverage unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. If you want your coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2023, you will need to enroll by Dec. 15.
Nearly half of Americans workers (45%) are likely to participate in voluntary benefits offered by their employers, according to a recent survey from Voya Financial. That’s up from 38% a year ago. These benefits range from critical illness coverage and hospital indemnity to disability income and accident insurance.
“It’s encouraging to see that workers intend to carve out more time to focus on reviewing all the workplace benefits offered by their employers to help optimize every hard-earned dollar,” Rob Grubka, CEO of Health Solutions at Voya, said in a press release shared with GOBankingRates.
A thorough review of those benefits should include the following before making your final choices.
Go Over Your Current Plan
Before choosing a health insurance plan during open enrollment, UnitedHealthcare recommends tallying up how much you spent on health care last year in terms of premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. Determine if the amount you or your family spent lined up with your health care needs. Also, make sure that any new plan includes your doctors/clinics in its network and covers the medications you take.
Research the Value of Health Savings Accounts
As Forbes reported, HSA-eligible high-deductible health plans usually come with lower premiums but higher deductibles than standard health insurance plans. They also make you eligible to contribute pre-tax dollars to the HSA that can be used tax-free for qualified medical expenses at any time. In 2023, those contributions are up to $3,850 for individual coverage or $7,750 for family coverage plus $1,000 if you’re 55 or older.
Make sure you factor in the value of the HSA during open enrollment, paying particular attention to whether your employer makes contributions to your HSA for you. If so, that’s free money. And if you contribute on top of that, you also get a break on your taxes.
Compare Premiums and Other Costs
When reviewing different plans, be sure to compare costs for premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance. One plan might offer lower premiums than another plan, but it still might end up costing you more once you start using healthcare services. This is especially true for high deductible health plans, according to Insurance.com
When deciding on a plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a chronic illness that requires regular doctor visits?
- Do you take expensive prescription drugs?
- Do you have a family or do you plan on starting one over the next year?
- Are lower premiums or lower out-of-pocket costs more important to you?
- Can you afford high out-of-pocket costs if there’s an emergency?
As Insurance.com noted, benefits administrators can provide information during open enrollment that lets you can compare plans.
Make Sure You Calculate the Right FSA Amount
Flexible spending accounts can be beneficial because the money you put into them can be used tax-free for health expenses. In 2023, you can put up to $3,050 per person in an FSA or up to $5,000 per family, Forbes reported. Just be realistic about how much money you’ll spend. If you don’t spend all of the money in the FSA by the end of the year then whatever you don’t use is lost.
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