Understanding your open enrollment

6:11 AM, Oct 9, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - While open enrollment season is closing in, the knowledge gap is widening among workers which could make electing benefits even more difficult this fall.

To help you understand what you need to know, Dan Ament, Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley joined KARE 11 Sunrise Wednesday morning.

Seventy-one percent don't understand changes: According to the 2013 Open Enrollment Survey by Aflac, 71 percent of American workers already admit they only sometimes or rarely understand the changes to their policies each year, yet 90 percent elect the same coverage every year.

Eight-nine percent increase in worker contributions: Average annual worker contributions for family health insurance have increased by 89% from 2003 to 2013.

What mistakes can employees avoid?

Prepare ahead of time: Be aware of annual insurance policy changes and compare your new benefits package to your policy from the year before. Do your homework to ensure you choose the right policy that fits your needs and make sure that all of the health insurance costs you're responsible for are within your budget. Also, review the deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for health care services and pharmacy purchases you'll be responsible for paying to ensure your plan offers the coverage you need.

Don't make assumptions: Keep in mind that if your company hasn't made any material changes to its health insurance plan since health care reform legislation was passed in 2010, it may be exempt for now from offering widely discussed essential health benefits, including free preventive services. Ask your HR manager if your policy options changed to include new benefits made available by health care reform. 

Check your spouse's benefits package: Your employer doesn't have to offer insurance to your spouse and as costs increase, more companies are cutting this option. Even if your employer does offer your spouse insurance, the company is not obligated to pay anything toward the premium. If your spouse has access to employer-sponsored health insurance through his or her job, it may make the most financial sense to purchase two individual policies as opposed to one family policy.

Examine premium costs carefully: Cheaper isn't always better, since plans with the lowest monthly premiums likely mean you'll pay more in co-insurance and receive less coverage.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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