Before You Sign: Smart Open Enrollment Questions

Even with all of the turmoil of COVID-19, we can still rely on a few constants: Temperatures will drop in the days ahead, our caloric intake will rise over the next couple of months, and your HR team will distribute information about “Open Enrollment,” the annual ritual of signing up for employee benefits.

Unfortunately, a lot of people will push aside those flyers and emails and, without much thought, check “No Change” on benefit enrollment forms. The problem is those employees might be missing out on money-saving options or a better benefits package. To avoid those mistakes, ask your HR team some direct questions. The following list is a good place to start.

What has changed? That might seem like an obvious question, but too many employees assume the answer is “Nothing,” even if the HR team has said repeatedly that changes have been made. Make sure you understand how plan changes might affect cost and benefits for you and your family.

Are my caregivers still in-network? Networks and physician affiliations change all the time. Your insurer should keep its online list of in-network providers updated, but touch base with your HR team to check for any changes not reflected on the insurer site.

Any new coverage options? Employers often add plan options to trim costs, help employees save money or improve coverage options. Make sure you consider any plan additions or changes that could offer a better option for you and your family.

Have changes in my life affected the choices I should make? Did you add any kids to your family this year? Did your spouse get a new job? Did you have a major health crisis? These and other life events could affect your options.

Any changes to the plan due to telehealth? Telehealth and other forms of virtual care are increasing, and your plan provisions might be affected.

Can the HR team help me find ways to save money? Your HR team understands that you want to get the best bang for your buck, and they might see money-saving options you’re overlooking, or they might see mistakes you’re making in your selections. Either way, they can be a great resource.

To build on that last point, keep in mind that your HR team cannot tell you what choices to make, but they should be happy to explain your options so you can make an informed decision that gives you and your family the best benefits for the best price.

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