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Do's and Don'ts of Open Enrollment

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October 25, 2020

Do's & Don'ts of Open Enrollment

There is no doubt that 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult and bizarre years on record. As we head into Q4, you may be starting to shore up your plans for the holidays. It becomes a busier time of year at work as employers are pushing to meet year-end goals and it is usually topped off with open enrollment season. Add another ton of information to your "To Review" pile: Evaluate your open enrollment choices for the upcoming year. What is mind blowing is 93% of respondents in a study conducted by Aflac said they choose the same benefits year-after-year!1 Remember, it is only once per year so you really should spend time to make sure you are not overlooking a detail. Once you lock in your elections, you are generally prohibited from making any changes without a qualifying life event. Below are some Dos and Do nots of open enrollment to help you in your decision-making process.

DO:

  • Consider life changes in the past year such as marriage, new dependents, change in compensation, etc. Do you have new family members that need to be covered from a recent marriage or childbirth? If you are contributing to an HSA, did a change in marriage status impact your contributions? In 2021, total contributions can be up to $3,600 for single and $7,200 for family. Did you have an increase in compensation that may give you extra cash flow to save?
  • Take time to review all options personally and with an advisor. In the same study from Aflac, 26% of people would rather skip their morning coffee or give up their favorite food than complete their benefits enrollment. Your elections could mean the difference of thousands of dollars. Spend the time!
  • Evaluate plans with a fresh perspective every year. While it is important to weigh the premiums vs. deductibles, do not underestimate the value of an HSA either. Especially if your employer contributes.
  • Consider if you have a unique need during the upcoming year. Maybe you need an attorney to draw up some documents. Does your employer offer a pre-paid legal plan? Do you have a child entering daycare of after-school? Does your employer offer a dependent care reimbursement account?

DON'T:

  • Do not assume anything is automatic with respect to your previous elections rolling over. This may create an unpleasant surprise that is not fixable.
  • Do not ignore benefits you may need like disability plans offered through your employer. People insure their cars, houses, and other important items all the time. It is even more important to insure your income!
  • Do not fall into specialized insurance coverages if they are not needed. Policies in this category like accidental death and dismemberment, cancer policies, critical illness, etc. are good for a select group but are often too specific to replace life, disability, or health insurance.
  • Do not leave employer money on the table. Does your employer match in the 401k? Does your employer make contributions to an HSA if you participate?

While this is not an all-inclusive list, it is enough to demonstrate why it is important for you to take an active role during your next open enrollment period. Employer benefits are part of your hidden compensation so if you do not manage them correctly you could be missing out on a lot of money. Not sure where to start? Go to www.oxygenfinancial.com and request your free consultation today for a free review of your employer benefits package.

1https://www.aflac.com/docs/awr/pdf/2019-fact-sheets/aflac-workforces-report-2019-open-enrollment-trends.pdf

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About the author

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Eric Pucciarelli

Vice President, Private CFO®

Eric Pucciarelli, MBA, CRPC
Vice President, Private CFO™

Eric is a native of Atlanta, he graduated from Georgia Southern University with a bachelor's degree in Business Management and a Master's of Business Administration.

Eric's credentials include:

  • Series 7 (General Securities Representative);
  • Series 66 (Uniformed Combined State La;
  • Masters of Business Administration;
  • Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor;
  • Past board member of the Georgia Southern Alumni Association.

Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.

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