5 Open Enrollment Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

There are a few OE mistakes you’ll definitely want to avoid making. And lucky for you, we know the top 5 and exactly how to keep from making ‘em.
by Shannan Seely September 30, 2019

It’s always good to feel “present.” To be “here” and not “there.” But when open enrollment (OE) begins next month, it’ll officially be time to think about the future. In fact, as we ramp up to OE right now, let’s just get it over with and start looking forward, eh?

Here are the 5 OE mistakes you’ll definitely want to avoid making this year (and every year after!).

The Big 5

1. DO NOT default and re-enroll in whatever plan you had last year.

This is the biggest and most common mistake people make. There’s something called“status-quo bias” that hardwires our minds to just want to keep things the same. But things change, and in benefits those changes can mean that a new plan or coverage level will save you money and/or get you something more personalized to your health needs. Schedule time to review your options because as your and your family’s health changes, your coverage might need to, too.

How? Start by reviewing your yearly medical expenses to-date, then estimate the amount you expect to spend on healthcare next year. You may be having a new baby, undergoing surgery, or your child will need orthodontic treatment. The features and prices (copays, deductibles, coverage for complementary medicine, etc.) of other plans often change every year too. Shopping for the best plan is what you’re aiming for!

2. Don’t choose a plan that offers services you know you don’t need.

Take a close look at your current plan vs. those you’re considering. The last thing you need is to be wasting money on a plan that offer services you know you don’t/almost definitely will not need just because it seems like a good deal.

On the flip side, don’t forget about the add-ons if they’re in your wheelhouse of need — e.g., dental coverage, disability insurance, life insurance, and even pet insurance! Fido needs love, too.

3. Don’t resist switching plans for fear of losing your doctor(s).

Yes, we all have status-quo bias — we already established that!. However, changing to a more favorable plan can mean improved overall treatment within your budget. Plus, you’ll be surprised by how often two different plans with different benefits both cover your same doctor(s). So be open to switching plans… even if you don’t get to keep your doctor, you’ll find another doctor you love. No sweat.

4. Assuming a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) is health savings account (HSA)-eligible.

Not every HDHP allows members to open health savings accounts (HSAs). If you aren’t sure whether your health insurance qualifies you for an HSA, talk to your HR/benefits manager at your company or, if buying your coverage through an individual marketplace, call the insurer and ask. To make certain you get all the benefits you deserve (triple-tax savings, penalty-free medical spending, and funds that are always, always yours) verify that your HDHP qualifies.

5. Passing up on tax-free savings.

HSAs are the most tax-advantaged investment option for qualified medical expenses and retirement (see above!).

“If you’re contemplating a high-deductible plan, don’t overlook the added benefit: you may be eligible to contribute to an HSA and save up to $3,500 a year in 2019 with pre-tax dollars ($7,000 for families plus a $1,000 catch-up if you’re 55 and older.” 

Time

You can spend money on qualified healthcare expenses as you need to, or let the funds in your HSA grow through savings, investing, or both — all tax-free! Unlike a flexible spending account (FSA), unused money in your HSA isn’t forfeited at the end of the year, which means the money continues to grow tax-deferred for as long as you hold onto it

If you have more questions about open enrollment, be sure to check out our other posts on OE by navigating back to our blog homepage. We’re here to help.

You can do this. Now go! Enroll!

 

Take the first step
in taking care of you.