Having health insurance is a benefit that most people don’t take for granted and if coverage is in place many believe; if it’s working why change? The thought of switching health insurance coverage or carriers is something many compare to fingernails on a chalkboard, but now I’m dating myself. Don’t let the hassle of making a change stop you from looking at all of your choices. Your best option may not be the plan that you are currently enrolled in and there are limited times when you can make changes. Other than a qualifying life event like the birth or adoption of a child, divorce or legal separation or marriage, the only time to make a change is during the open enrollment period or when you or your spouse change jobs. When the opportunity to make a change is there, it’s critical to take advantage and consider your options.
Employers offer open enrollment once every year and the timing varies from employer to employer. Don’t assume that if you do nothing that everything will stay the same. In an effort to reduce costs, employers may reduce the coverage by modifying the plan design or they may chose to limit the employer contribution to the employee and begin to charge for family members. There’s typically a short window to review what’s available and make changes, so taking no action may cost you in the long run. If both you and your spouse are working, be sure to take advantage of both open enrollment periods and make the best choice for your family.
As the economy improves, people who were staying put in a job are now seeing opportunities present themselves and a new employer may have better benefit options than you currently have. Perhaps your spouse started with a new employer or newly became eligible for benefits. Make sure you compare the offerings from each employer, from a quality and cost perspective. Does one plan have a higher deductible or higher co-pays? Keep in mind you don’t need to keep all benefits with one employer. One spouse’s company might have richer health insurance plans, while the other has better dental or disability plans.
Whenever you have the opportunity to replace or change your coverage, take a deep breath, think about your needs, pay close attention to the amount your employer contributes and read the materials provided to you carefully. For example, if prescriptions are a driving factor, ask about the costs in the various plans, if you travel and need coverage in more than one area, a PPO may make more sense than an HMO. The most important thing to do is make sure you review all the benefits available (by both spouse’s employers if applicable) and never assume the status quo is the best option.
For more information on switching insurance plans, please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at AskUs@genesishrsolutions.com or 800-367-8367.
Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.