For the thousands of employees who receive their health insurance through their employers, it’s open enrollment time for health insurance and other benefits.
These benefits are very important for employees and their families and it’s essential to have the necessary information to make the right decision regarding next year’s health coverage, as well as other benefits an employer offers. This coverage usually begins about a month or two after open enrollment and is in effect for a full year. Very often coverage will begin January 1 through December 31, though some companies may choose a coverage year that begins at a different time.
Open enrollment is the time of the year when employees have the option to change their medical coverage, and if offered by their employer choose other related benefits such as dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance and disability insurance, among others.
During this time employees will receive information from their employers about the different plan options, ask questions about choices and choose to enroll in a plan. They may also add or drop dependents.
Open enrollment is very important because it is generally the only time an employee can make changes to these coverages. So, here are a few things every employee must know about their group open enrollment, and how to make the best choices.
Employees Need to Do their Homework
Review the materials provided by your employer and their broker. Whether the health plan is changing or staying the same, review the written materials and make not of any questions to ask during the decision-making process.
Employees Need to Talk to their Healthcare Providers
Whether your health plan is staying the same or changing—especially if it is changing—check with your healthcare providers to see if they will be on the network. An important point if your plan is changing and you don’t want to change doctors. This also applies to dental and vision coverages, if offered by the employer.
Employees Need to Review Past Medical Bills
Review your medical and health expenses for the last couple of years. This will help you to understand your medical needs and know which of your employer’s options will be best for your family. You can usually access this information online through the membership portals of most insurance companies.
Employees Need to Complete the Required Forms Carefully and Completely
Making sure health care enrollment forms are completed correctly can make the difference between being covered and not being covered. Make sure that you have included all of your dependents and that you have selected the proper coverages for each. Health plan changes in the middle of the year are only allowed in the event of a “status change” including: marriage, divorce, birth, adoption and other significant life events. For a complete list of these qualifying events, ask your benefits representative.
Employees Need to Consider the Supplemental or “Voluntary” Benefits
Review all of the benefit options your employer is offering. Don’t just stop at medical, dental and vision. Do you have a family who depends on your income? If yes, you need life insurance. Are you aware that according to the National Safety Council, disabling injuries that could temporarily or permanently impair an employee’s ability to work happen every minute of every work day? And there may be other benefits that can help your family. Review all of them with your employer and the benefits representative to see what may be right for you.
According to Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation (a non-profit health policy organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente), “Employees should not let their insurance go on autopilot. They should look at options and review whether they’re in the right plan.”
Employees Need to Ask for Explanations
As you review these materials, if there are terms or offers you don’t understand, ask for a full explanation. Knowledge is power—and in this case, knowledge could save you thousands of dollars by getting you the right benefits.
To get you started, here is a downloadable glossary of health coverage and medical terms.
Still have questions about open enrollment and your health and benefits options? Ask your employer to arrange a meeting for you with your company’s benefits representatives. If your employer doesn’t have a benefits representative, have them call Roper Insurance today at 303-721-1145 or email [email protected] for assistance with all of their group benefits needs.