Open Enrollment is coming, it's time to review your benefits
Open enrollment for employee benefits kicks off on
Nov. 1. Before you plan your Thanksgiving
menu, you should make the time to review your
Employee benefit experts expect benefits to change
next year like few years before – given the rising
costs of health care and the impact of COVID-19 on
businesses this year. Even if little changed in your life
in 2020 – and that’s probably unlikely – you should
aim to maximize what your employer offers.
Here are a few pointers.
Even if you carry the same plan as in many past
years, spend a few minutes evaluating which one is
best for you and your family when you choose –
especially high-deductible health plans and
Switching from the traditional plan to a high deductible
option might save money if you don’t visit
the doctor much. Perhaps too your spouse’s company
now offers a better plan and you can switch the family
coverage to the better alternative.
Improved employer plan descriptions lay out plans’
differences and costs and do that much better this
year. Take advantage of their free help, online or in
Often you receive only one choice for dental
coverage, but you might be surprised at how many
people decline to pay the relatively small premium for
this coverage. Even if young and cavity-free, you take
care of your teeth now to potentially prevent large
dental bills in retirement.
If nothing else, dental insurance provides a teeth cleaning
twice a year.
This benefit works great if you wear glasses or
contacts and need regular eye exams. Those with
perfect vision may opt out of this coverage.
Most employers offer some basic life insurance, the
coverage usually a multiple of your salary. If you are
married, own a home or have kids, this basic
coverage usually falls short.
Consider paying extra if possible, to increase life
coverage through your employer. If that’s not an
option, consider supplementing this minimal coverage
with a term policy from an independent provider.
These policies come with set duration limits on
coverage and you decide whether to renew once the
Remember that whatever life coverage your employer
pays for vanishes if you leave that company.
Standard coverage in this category usually pays 60%
to 66% of your compensation if you become disabled
and unable to work.
As this coverage often comes with a cap, if you are
highly compensated, this insurance might also fall
short to sustain your standard of living. Estimate your
minimum to live on if you become unable to work and,
if that number scares you, consider purchasing a
Long-term care insurance
This pays for assisted living, a nursing home or inhome
care late in your life.
Even as our lifespans increase, long-term care
premiums escalate. If your employer offers any
coverage at a relatively inexpensive group rate,
consider locking in some protection. Financial
advisors normally recommend LTCI when you turn
age 50 – getting it while you are young and healthy
under an employer plan may still make sense.
Flexible spending account
This savings account reduces your taxable income
and funds medical co-pays, orthodontist appointments
and prescription drug orders, among other expenses.
Figure your out-of-pocket medical costs and sign up
to set aside that amount, up to $3,550, pre-tax in an
FSA and $7,100 for families. Remember that if you
participate in an HDHP, you maintain a related health
savings account and can only take advantage of a
Either way, pay for the most of out-of-pocket medical
costs with pre-tax dollars.
Dependent care flexible spending account
If you pay for day care, after-school programs or
summer day camps for children under age 13 or for
elder care for a dependent parent, DCAs help you
offset that cost with pre-tax dollars. Again, a working
couple can set aside up to $5,000 from paychecks.
Life planning resources
This wide-ranging employee benefit is being offered
more and more, from simple mental-health hotlines to
complete menus of services.
For instance, if you lack a will, many companies now
offer reduced-rate or even complimentary legal
services to establish your basic estate planning
documents. Others offer financial planning and
weight-loss programs – sometimes even gym
Your financial advisor
Finally, while your employer will offer resources to
help you navigate the menu of employee benefits,
your financial advisor is well versed in ensuring your
benefits are consistent with your overall financial plan
and is a great resource too.
Important Disclosure Information
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
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