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Evaluate your Benefits Needs During Open Enrollment

by Jennifer Fairweather, Human Resources Director
comments open from Oct. 29 until Nov. 17

If you are among the millions of American’s who receive health insurance through an employer, you will probably receive your 2014 open enrollment material shortly. It’s important to take this opportunity to review all of the information in order to avoid costly mistakes.

Here’s why: Health insurance has undergone major changes since the 2012 Affordable Care Act was passed, including: the elimination of annual and lifetime coverage limits and preexisting conditions exclusions; preventative care has been expanded to be free; and children up to age 26 can remain on their parents’ plans.

Be sure to check with your employer to see if your benefit plans have been altered. If your employer offers flexible spending accounts and you are not participating, you’re leaving a valuable tax break on the table.

Common changes include:
• Increased monthly premiums, deductibles and copayment amounts
• Revised prescription drug formularies
• Favored doctors or hospitals in the network may vary from year to year
• Changes to the annual limits on care/medical equipment (physical therapy, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, etc.)
• Additional services offered (clinical trials, obesity counseling, etc.)

Compare your employer’s plans alongside those offered by your spouse’s employer when deciding which options will best benefit you and your family.

It’s worth taking the time to review your benefit coverage options for next year, especially when you consider the potential financial consequences.

Pay attention to spousal surcharges. It’s becoming more common for employers to impose a spousal surcharge if the spouse has access to healthcare at his or her workplace but elects to be covered under their spouse’s plan instead.

Don’t forget to cover the kids! Make sure you and your spouse talk over who is going to cover the kids so you don’t forget to add them mistakenly thinking the other one has covered them on their plan.

Be sure to carefully compare all costs and features of the different plans offered and what’s changing for next year.

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