If you get benefits from an employer, chances are you’re familiar with your annual benefits enrollment period (sometimes referred to generally as “open enrollment”) which is your opportunity to review and potentially change your benefits for the upcoming year. When you’re busy with work and life, it may be tempting to just pick the basics or simply renew what you currently have, but you may be missing out on opportunities to enhance your benefits, change your current benefits to better fit your needs, or even save money on benefits you no longer need.

Take time to review your annual enrollment materials and carefully consider your options from a holistic view. Your retirement plan, insurance benefits and other options should all work together to help provide a secure, healthy future for you and your family or loved ones. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when your annual benefits enrollment period comes around.


You work hard for your employer. A smart approach to annual enrollment can help you maximize the benefits they make available to you.


1. New benefits may be available: Employers frequently add new features to their benefits packages to help them stay competitive. New supplemental coverages, health care services, discount programs and more may have been added since your last enrollment. Be sure to read your enrollment materials to see if these new benefits and services may be a good choice for you.

2. Your situation may have changed: Many changes in life can affect your benefits needs, including getting married or divorced, having a child, buying a home and more. Perhaps you need more life insurance than you currently have—or perhaps less. You might wish to enhance your medical coverage as you get older. Carefully consider where you are in life now versus when you first enrolled, and make sure your benefits meet your current needs.

3. Your spousal or dependent needs may be different: If your spouse has coverage through their own employer, you may want to compare plans to decide if they should join your plan, you should join their plan, or you should keep your coverage separate. And if you have dependents, decide which spouse’s plan is best for them as well. Finally, remember to remove dependents who may have “graduated” to coverage of their own or have aged out of yours. Annual enrollment is also a great time to review your beneficiaries to ensure that your life insurance and other benefits are paid out correctly if you pass away.

4. Costs may have increased: If your employer is increasing the cost of your health care benefits, at the very minimum you’ll want to be aware that more money may be coming out of your paycheck. But you may also have opportunities to save money by switching to a high-deductible health plan, starting a health savings account (HSA) or flexible savings account (FSA), and joining an incentive program that rewards healthy activity. While the cost of health care may be out of your control, you may have options to reduce its impact.

Use annual enrollment to your advantage

Remember that unless you have a qualifying life change such as a marriage, divorce, or birth or adoption of a child, annual enrollment is typically your one opportunity to review and change your benefits for an entire year. Don’t wait until the last minute or miss your window altogether. Most companies provide extensive materials in advance of annual enrollment to ensure you know what’s available and changing, and many hold seminars to help ensure you understand your options.

You work hard for your employer. A smart approach to annual enrollment can help you maximize the benefits they make available to you.

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