Because the benefits of the open sign-up season may cost you more this year

stubborn | E + | Getty Images

Don’t be surprised if you spend more time reaping health benefits this year during open enrollment season.

Between rising inflation, specific policy changes, and employees wanting more health services, many people won’t tick exactly the same boxes as last year.

Last year during open enrollments, typically October and November, people spent an average of six additional minutes on decision making, according to Aon’s data. And it is likely to remain stable or increase this year. A recent survey by Voya Financial found that due to inflationary pressures, 70% of employees plan to spend more time reviewing benefit selection during open enrollments to get the most out of their benefits.

Many people make benefit decisions based on what they can afford, and inflation could be a game changer, said Rob Grubka, managing director of Health Solutions for Voya Financial. “It’s hitting household wallets,” he said.

Here are five tips for navigating this year’s open subscription season.

Expect to pay more for healthcare in 2022

Some companies are seeing insurers raise their health premiums by 30% or 40%, according to Stacy Edgar, co-founder and CEO of Venteur, which helps employers choose health care offerings. Some employers will absorb this additional cost, but others will pass it on to employees, she said. This could be due to higher monthly premiums or high direct costs.

According to Aon, employees in 2022 are contributing approximately $ 4,412 for health coverage, up 2.6% from $ 4,302 in 2021. Much of this increase is due to the increase in what employees are paying. own pocket. Employees in 2022 are paying $ 1,892 in out-of-pocket expenses, up 5.2% from $ 1,798 in 2021, Aon said.

The pandemic and the labor market play more important roles

There are too many options and complexities to fly through the open registration process. This is especially true now, as many companies have increased their benefit offerings in response to the pandemic and to attract and retain top talent, in the midst of a hiring crisis. It is also important because as the cost of health care rises, even small changes to benefits can make a significant difference in an individual or family’s finances.

More from Invest in You:
With the S&P 500 down 20% year-on-year, retirement investors are reconsidering their strategy
Student loan payments, interest returns to January. Here’s how to deal with it
The ultimate guide to planning your retirement for 2022

This is especially true if something has changed with respect to your health or that of a family member, Edgar said. For example, make sure you pay close attention to changes in the costs of co-payment, emergency room visits, hospitalization, and prescription drugs, all of which can add up.This advice applies equally to people who are entering a federal market or state health care benefits, said Kristen Anderson, co-founder and chief executive of Catch, a personal wages and benefits product for the self-employed.

It is recommended that consumers update the federal or state market application, starting November 1, with expected income and family information. They should then compare their current plan with what is available for 2023 and select an appropriate plan within the required time frame. They should go through this process, even if they have selected the re-enrollment option and think they may want to keep the same plan for 2023, according to HealthCare.gov.

Beware of gaps in health coverage

Typically, when employees prepare for open enrollment, they spend most of their time focusing on the core benefits in the workplace: medical, dental, and eye care, according to Voya Financial. While these benefits are important, many workers often have gaps in their coverage.

Voluntary benefits offered through an employer can provide additional protection. These include hospital allowance insurance, critical illness cover, and accident insurance. These covers are relatively inexpensive, typically costing less than $ 5 per week for employees, said Dani McCauley, senior vice president and customer experience leader for Aon’s consumer benefits solutions team.

Employers may have added other benefits to their training in an effort to attract and retain famous employees. These include student loan repayment benefits and emergency savings support.

“Make sure you consider all the benefits your employer offers,” McCauley said.

Why most Americans choose the wrong health insurance plan

Don’t overlook the group life insurance offered by the employer

Sales of life insurance soared in 2021 as the pandemic caused many people to think about their own mortality. After record growth in policy sales in 2021, policy sales fell 9% in the first six months of 2022, according to industry research firm Limra. This likely reflects conservative reductions in spending due to inflation and other factors, Limra said.

Group life insurance, however, may be important, especially for people with serious medical conditions who may not qualify for individual life insurance or who cannot afford the premiums of an individual policy. In many cases, group life does not require a medical examination and the policy may be transferable if an employee changes companies. Spouses or children may also be admitted.

Use the self-help tools available

McCauley advises employees to leverage employer-offered resources designed to help them reap the benefits. These can include webinars, built-in support tools, and dedicated benefits professionals. There are also free resources on HealthCare.gov and state markets to help consumers make health coverage decisions.

“This year it’s more about what the right choice is, not just a choice,” McCauley said.

SIGNING UP: Money 101 is an 8-week financial freedom learning course delivered to your inbox weekly. For the Spanish version Dinero 101, click here.