“Am I OK, Will I Be OK?” And Other Questions Open Enrollment Cannot Answer, But May Help
Open enrollment is here. While many see the annual ritual of reviewing current health coverage and studying upcoming benefit changes as yet another chore, multiple research studies, backed up by behavioral theory, suggest something larger is at work. Your choices create a financial wellness generator capable of building long-term security for you and your family.
Even so, distracted by the fine print we often miss the big picture:
Am I on the right path? Will I have what I need, when I need it?
The information brochures, web decision tools and HR sessions contain clues to these questions. What they cannot do, however, is answer them.
As the employer benefits industry knows, financial wellness is more than your retirement plan. Medical and dental insurance, personal budgeting tools, supplemental life and disability insurance, and voluntary programs too numerous to list all play a role in your financial wellbeing.
But what combination and coverage levels are best for you?
Even among financial planners and advisors, money professionals consumers often look to in answering these questions, responses vary.
Furthermore, limited resources leave employers unable to provide individually tailored financial planning as one more benefit. Coupled with the legal exposure of providing financial advice and the potential bias of financial services companies, employers stop short of pulling it all together.
Make no mistake, employees are being asked to do more, as are consumers overall (my book review of “Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs that Fill You Day). Gone are retirement pensions and no fee, no deductible health plans, and other “free” benefits old timers like to remember. In its place are more, and many ways more important, choices. Not participating is not an option. As the saying goes, “not choosing is a choice.”
In future posts on open enrollment we’ll cover retirement plan contributions, health plan and HSA selection, supplement insurance coverage and other topics to answer “Am I Ok?” and “Will I be Ok?”
In This Series
About Aaron – Aaron Benway is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and IRS Enrolled Agent (EA). He co-founded HSA Coach, a digital tool to educate consumers on HSAs, track health expenses and other documents, and provide individual financial calculators, to help consumers get the most from their HSA and other savings. Prior to HSA Coach Aaron was the CFO of HelloWallet, a financial wellness startup purchased by Morningstar. Earlier in his career, Aaron was an investor at The Carlyle Group and a nuclear engineer in the US Navy. Aaron has an Electrical Engineering degree from the US Naval Academy and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Aaron lives in the Washington DC area with his wife and two children.