In my non blog life, I work as a pharmacy technician at a major retail pharmacy. Open Enrollment comes along every year at this time and we are inundated with people asking questions about insurance options. What is Open Enrollment? It is that one time of year when employees can make changes to their benefits options. So many people do not understand their benefits or options that may be available to them. Now is the time to learn, however, because open enrollment only happens once a year so you need to be ready! I see patients every day that walk into my pharmacy and don’t understand why their medication isn’t covered or why a co-payment is so high. If you don’t like the current services and prices your insurance plan offers, you should research supplemental insurance plans to find one that would better fit your family and medical needs.
Aflac recently compiled an in-depth study about American’s and their understanding of Open Enrollment and insurance usage. The Open Enrollment Survey shows some rather staggering statistics that show most Americans either do not understand their benefits or are not making the most of the benefits that are available to them. In a lot of cases, employers were not providing adequate information to their employees about Open Enrollment and the coverage options available to them. Even if you are happy with your current insurance, your benefits plan changes from year to year and it is up to you (and/or your spouse) to be aware of what next year may bring. Just because a prescription is covered this year, doesn’t mean it will be on the formulary next year, too! During Open Enrollment, research upcoming changes and decide if you need to switch insurance providers.
There are a number of ways that you can make the most out of your insurance options. Make sure you get advice from your human resource manager or an insurance consultant at your place of employment to help you understand your benefits coverage. Discuss multiple plan options that might be available and make sure you are aware of insurance policy changes to your current plan to avoid making costly mistakes. Don’t forget to calculate your yearly medical expenses to help plan for the right amount of flex spending contributions. Flex spending accounts are a great way to save for unexpected medical costs.
Every Fall, my husband brings home the huge stack of paperwork from his job for us to go through to decide what insurance plan is right for us. We have stuck with the same healthcare plan for years but not before looking at expected costs, available doctors, prescription formularies, and covered services. For our dental coverage, however, we made some big changes a few years ago to ensure that my kids could get braces and have part of it covered by insurance. In order to qualify for orthodontist coverage, we had to be members of the plan for TWO YEARS prior to applying for payment of expenses! I was shocked, to be honest! My husband’s dental insurance through his employer didn’t cover this type of dental work at all so we had to pay out of pocket for supplemental dental insurance. While it is a little bit pricey it is a lot cheaper in the long run than paying for the entire cost of braces, retainers, spacers, etc for 2 kids! If you children are going to need any sort of orthodontist work, you may want to check out your insurance options during this open enrollment!
You may decide that the healthcare plan you have right now is perfect for your family but you may also discover that you are wasting money with your current provider. According to Aflac, 56 percent of employees estimate they waste up to $750 because of mistakes made with insurance benefits elections. Don’t waste this kind of money because you are too busy, tired, bored, or uninterested to research insurance options. If you stick with your current plan you should do it because it offers the best services for your medical needs, not because you were uninformed during Open Enrollment! If you just need to ‘fill in the gaps’ to your current coverage, consider supplemental insurance instead of switching plans completely. There are a lot of options available so make sure to do your research!
Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Aflac and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate