Getting prepared for open enrollment sets you up for benefits coverage (and success) for the next 12 months. Wandering into open enrollment without the tools you need could be financially disastrous. A few extras minutes today can ensure you are prepared for the unexpected.
The yearly open enrollment ritual for employers, employees, SMBs and self-employed individuals all starts with evaluating benefits options. This includes health insurance, retirement plans, disability offerings, or commuter benefits. This could also include savings options like an HSA or FSA. To prepare for those decisions, you need to know the basics. Don’t miss key dates or get bogged down in the terminology.
Key Terms for Open Enrollment
- OEP (Open Enrollment Period) – this designates the time in which you may select or decline benefits coverage for the next benefits year. Not selecting benefits coverage could mean you don’t have coverage for the next 12 months. The only caveat to that is life events (change of job, the birth of a child, retirement, etc).
- Medical Effective Date – Your open enrollment period is not the same as your medical effective date (i.e., the day that your plan starts). Your medical effective date is the day your coverage begins (or changes). Make sure you earmark these dates to ensure your old plan coverage and new plan coverage don’t leave any gaps. This is especially true if you change jobs.
- Eligibility– the most basic question of open enrollment is plan eligibility. Are you (or your family members) eligible for coverage based on your employment type of plan selection? For example, an HSA (health savings account), is only compatible with a high deductible health plan (HDHP).
Preparing for Open Enrollment
After a quick review of terms and key dates, you should be ready to format your open enrollment strategy. This will help you maximize your benefits coverage and limit your costs. So easy! Well, it won’t be that easy, but it will create a plan of attack so you can get your money’s worth and limit any unexpected costs.
If you need more help with health account decisions, check out our blog. We will make you a healthcare benefits expert in no time, without any extra work or effort on your end.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.