Open enrollment period is when employees choose their workplace benefits for the next year. And since the advent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – it’s also when members of the public who don’t have access to health care through their employer can purchase or renew their health care plans via the government health care exchanges.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you renew your benefits this open enrollment season:
Understand your benefits
Many people simply choose the least expensive options during open enrollment instead of researching the best fit for them. For example, someone with high prescription drug costs might want a plan that covers all or part of those costs at the beginning of the year – yet some plans require that the deductible is met before prescription drug costs are paid. Understanding your benefits and what’s covered can have an enormous impact on your personal – and financial – health.
More than health care
Open enrollment is about more than health insurance. Many employers offer a range of insurance and benefits during open enrollment. Common options include life insurance, disability insurance, legal services, identity theft protection and critical illness insurance. And some employers offer additional perks like discounted museum admission, education benefits or student loan forgiveness programs.
Take advantage of tax savings
Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) may be on the menu of choices during your enrollment period. These accounts collect pretax dollars from your income and can offer you significant tax savings in tandem with the health and dependent care services you use. Set aside time to talk to a professional familiar with these accounts and build a strategy to make the most of their benefit.
Don’t get overwhelmed
What’s the best way to make the most of open enrollment? Take your time and do your homework. You can easily feel overwhelmed by the options and simply want to be done with the process – but fully understanding your benefits when you enroll can help you manage your finances more effectively throughout the year. Finally, know your deadlines and plan ahead to give yourself enough time to be comfortable with your decisions.
- The Affordable Care Act open enrollment deadline is Dec. 15. Find more info at HealthCare.gov.
- The Medicare open enrollment deadline is Dec. 7. Find more info at Medicare.gov.
All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful.
HSAs typically offer several savings and investment options. These may include interest-earning savings, checking, and money market accounts, or investments such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that offer the potential to earn higher returns but carry more risk including investment loss. Make sure that you carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses associated with each option before investing.
This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only and may include references to concepts that have legal, accounting and tax implications. It is not to be construed as legal, accounting or tax advice, and is provided as general information to assist in understanding the issues discussed. Waddell & Reed does not provide tax advice. Waddell & Reed believes the information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.