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2024 Open Enrollment

For employees, retirees, and individuals shopping for health insurance plans independently, this is not likely to be the most exciting time of the year. It’s open enrollment season, bringing with it a wave of change and, often, confusion.

For those receiving employer-provided benefits, open enrollment typically kicks off between October and November. Medicare enrollees, on the other hand, have a window between October 15 and December 7, while those seeking a Marketplace health plan for the following year can sign up from November 1 through January 15.

Navigating the myriad of options can be overwhelming. How do you select the right health-care plan? Is the cheapest option the best? Should you purchase life insurance through your employer or individually? And what exactly is a flexible spending account?

Regardless of the source of your coverage – whether it’s through a private employer, self-purchased, or Medicare – open enrollment is your opportunity to ensure you’ve optimized your coverage. A big mistake people often make is sticking with their current plan because it’s familiar, or they just don’t like change. By doing so, they might be leaving money on the table and missing out on valuable benefits.

Here are some tips to make your open enrollment decisions more manageable:

  • Review Your Coverage: Don’t assume that what you elected last year is still the best option for you. Changes in co-pay amounts or deductibles may have occurred, and your medical providers might no longer be in your current plan’s network. Also, check your prescription drug plan to ensure your medications will still be covered.
  • Work with a  Broker: Most brokers have access to many different carriers and can provide a great overview of what’s available on the market. When speaking directly with an insurance provider, keep in mind that their opinions will reflect the values of the company they work for and not always what is in your best interest. There are also a great number of online tools to help in your search. Medicare’s website, for instance, makes it easier to shop for plans. At healthcare.gov, you can preview 2024 Marketplace health plans and get estimated prices. Using these tools is a great way to vet the broker you’re working with.
  • Take Advantage of Flexible Spending Accounts: Don’t forget to contribute to a flexible spending account (FSA), a dependent-care FSA, or a health savings account (HSA). These accounts can help you save on out-of-pocket health and dependent-care expenses.
  • Review Insurance Coverage: Compare rates on the open market, even if your employer offers life insurance. It’s often cheaper to purchase individual insurance, especially if you’re in good health. If you have pre-existing health issues, explore your employer’s options, but be aware of potential coverage loss if you leave your job.
  • Consider Disability Insurance: If your workplace offers disability insurance, it’s a wise choice as you’re more likely to become disabled than to pass away at a young age.
  • Update Beneficiary Information: Don’t overlook updating your beneficiary details, especially if you’ve experienced major life changes like marriage or divorce.
  • Avoid Procrastination: Get as much information as you can on available plans in your area. Don’t wait until the last day of open enrollment to make your choices. Start reviewing your options early, no matter what type of coverage you have.

If you’re 65 or older and have Medicare, be careful with where you submit your information online. By entering your information on different websites you open yourself up to be contacted by a number of people that aren’t all good actors.  Working with local agencies and brokers is the way to go.

Open enrollment can be a hassle, but failing to act could lead to unexpected costs.

 

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