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Open Enrollment

by Jaime Thompson on October 22, 2010

Here is comes, time for your company to let you know how much more health insurance is going to cost you in the upcoming year than it did this past year. Since most employers offer more than one option, you should review the choices rather than sticking with the status quo or default option. After all, health insurance is not one size fits all.

Some ways to help you save on medical costs include signing up for a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), offered with high deductible plans. This allows you to tuck away dollars before taxes are taken out to apply towards medical costs. There are restrictions and guidelines for both, so make sure to educate yourself with regards to what the money can be used on and the time line in which it needs to be used.

Negotiate with health care providers. Ask about costs up front and what your insurance will cover and what will come out of your pocket. Many medical offices as well as hospitals are willing to give you a discount for paying at the time of your visit, so don’t be afraid to ask. It saves them the time, money, and effort of trying to collect from you months later.

If you can buy generic, buy generic and shop around for your prescriptions. Online pharmacies can sometimes fill them cheaper than brick and mortar stores. And you may even find a price difference amongst pharmacies in the same neighborhood.

Don’t forget open enrollment is a time to look at all your employer sponsored benefits, so be sure to review any life insurance, disability insurance, and dependent-care FSA options afforded you. It’s also a great time to ensure your beneficiary information is up to date.

If you have specific questions about your options and coverage, don’t be afraid to go to your human resources department or plan facilitator. That’s what they are there for. These are big decisions you only get to make once a year, so make sure you have all your questions answered before checking off that box.

(photo by wcm1111)

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