Review your Employee Benefits

How to do a benefits check-up
For many of us, the last time we really thought seriously about our benefits was the last time we took a new job. Sure, we’re supposed to think about them every year during Open Enrollment, when we have the chance to make changes, but – let’s be honest – most of us just say, “No changes” and move on. But doing an annual review of your benefits is a good idea. Of course, you can do it any time, but it makes sense to do it before Open Enrollment so you can make any changes you deem necessary. The following are some things to consider as you do your review.

Think beyond the paycheck deduction. Often, the first question any of us ask about a benefit is, “What’s it going to cost me every month?” While that’s a fair question, it’s a short-sighted one if it’s the only one you ask. So, when you evaluate your benefits, think about other costs. With health coverage, for example, think about deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket limits. With retirement accounts, think about how much the company matches and, therefore, how much money you’re missing out on if you don’t deduct at least as much as the company will match. With life or disability insurance, think about what it would cost if you bought it on the open market.

Think about portability. You might love your job and think you’ll be there forever, but things change. So be aware of benefits that can travel with you if you leave, and don’t bet long-term security on benefits – like, disability insurance, for example – that could go away if you leave a job.
Think about your age and life stage. The benefit options you chose when you started with your firm might not still be the best choice for you now. Be sure you’ve made adjustments to reflect changes in your family, for example. Especially be aware that, if you’re under 26, you can choose to be on your parents’ health insurance, but, after that, you have to have your own coverage. Also, consider your overall health. A young person with few medical issues might opt for one kind of health coverage, for example, while someone who is getting older or who has some chronic conditions might need something different.

Take advantage of opportunities. Flexible Spending Plans, employee charitable-giving matches, and other lower-profile benefits might escape your attention, but they should be assessed because, in some cases, missing out on them means passing on financial gain through tax breaks and employer cash.

Certainly, this isn’t everything you should think about as you assess your benefits, but this will give you a good head start on doing an annual review. The bottom line? Don’t put your benefits on auto-pilot. You might be spending more than necessary or missing out on great opportunities. If you have questions, talk to you HR team or your employer’s benefits provider.

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