For some, open enrollment is a confusing time of year where you have to predict what your healthcare needs will be for the rest of the year. This year, with the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace, open enrollment may be a little more complicated. The Affordable Care Act led to the creation of state and federally run health insurance exchanges that launched on the first of October. These health plans are for the uninsured but could also help some people who already have hard-to-afford plans or plans that don’t cover enough of their health costs. Whatever an individual’s personal situation, free online calculators found at PaycheckCity can help compare different scenarios impacting benefit options and take-home pay now that open enrollment has rolled around again. Chances are it's been a while since you've reviewed your health and retirement benefits. There are a lot of details to consider, so here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Start early. Investigate your health benefit options, and give yourself time to analyze each plan. Be aware of policy changes, and contact your HR department if you have questions. Have you been paying for services you didn't really use? Try to estimate how much coverage you'll need next year, and consider trimming your options down to the services you use most.
- Consider higher deductibles. If you're young and healthy, you may want to switch your health coverage to a high-deductible policy that will reduce premiums. Ask your HR department if Health Savings Accounts are available. They combine lower premiums and higher deductibles with an investment fund to pay for future health-related costs.
- Look into life and disability coverage also. Disability insurance is critical, especially for generally healthy people, where the chance of suffering a debilitating injury is higher than the risk of death. A good rule of thumb - insure 60% of your pay for disability. In addition, long-term care protection is also important since we are now living longer.
- Check into Flexible-Spending Accounts if they are available to you. They can divert money from your paycheck to meet various unreimbursed health costs, pre-tax.
- Re-evaluate your retirement plan. Use the calculators at PaycheckCity to view the impact of 401k adjustments on your take-home pay.