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Health Team

Look beyond health plans during open enrollment

Posted November 21, 2013

The end of the year is benefit open enrollment season for most Americans – your annual opportunity to change, elect, or renew benefit coverage offered through your employer for the upcoming year.

With the cost of health care continuing to rise, health care reform is changing the insurance landscape and often the benefits employers provide. And with these changes, consumers face added costs and new decision-making responsibilities. In fact, in addition to health care decisions, four-fifths of employers have already adopted voluntary benefits to provide employees with new non-medical benefit choices, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

“Employers once selected and paid for a specific set of nonmedical benefits for their employees, such as short-term and long-term disability, dental, and term life insurance,” says Rob Grubka, president, Group Protection at Lincoln Financial Group. “Today, that’s changing; decisions and funding of healthcare and many nonmedical benefits are now in the hands of the employees themselves.”

If you’re a bit confused by the details, here are some simple things to consider when choosing your benefits:

Health insurance coverage is certainly a valuable benefit, but don’t overlook how other important benefits – such as dental care, vision coverage, disability insurance, life insurance and critical illness insurance – also play a big role in protecting your financial future.

Even if your employer doesn`t contribute toward the premium cost, these can be more cost effective and you may be able to conveniently pay premiums via pre-tax payroll deduction if you purchase them at work. You’ll likely need more protection than just medical, and the majority of employers do sponsor other options. So review your enrollment materials to determine what’s being offered.

Figure out your biggest risks today and make protecting them a priority. If you’re healthy, single, and relatively young, you have different needs than someone who is married with three kids in high school.

A lot of companies and benefits providers have tools, videos and even games on their websites to help make understanding benefits easy.  For example, www.LincolnforLiving.com, an innovative free website, features a wide array of tools and resources to help you make smarter decisions about protecting your future based on your lifestyle.

Every year you should consider your life changes and re-evaluate your needs. Whether you’re about to walk down the aisle, expand your family, or buy your first home, protecting your assets with the right kinds and amounts of insurance coverage is key.

With a voluntary benefits program, you get an opportunity to purchase specific benefits. But there are a lot of details so take advantage of benefit educational webinars, one-on-one meetings or group meetings provided through your employer. 

It's the important things in life that are worth protecting. Insurance benefits offered in your workplace play a role in how you plan for that protection. Be sure to make informed choices this open enrollment season.

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  • junkmail5 Nov 22, 2013

    The error in your argument is that you are assuming that BCBS is the only insurer in the state of 10 million people.- realmmdonuts

    They're the ONLY insurer for the exchanges for most of NC.

    But regardless, the same RATIO applies to the other companies... so you're still looking at about 3% of the population being "hurt".

    Not that they don't count, but they ARE a tiny fraction of the population.

  • realmmmdonuts Nov 21, 2013

    It is true because I know it's true. They may not be grandfathered plans so they are now (or will be soon) forced to be replaced.

    "Even BCBS admits that only about 1/3rd of individual customers are seeing that... and that's 1/3rd of a group that is already a small fraction of the market.

    Only about 125,000 total of their NC customers are seeing significant price jumps. In a state of about 10 million people.
    - junkmail5"

    The error in your argument is that you are assuming that BCBS is the only insurer in the state of 10 million people. There are more companies than BCBS with insured in various groups, including the individual market. So the number is much higher than 125k.

  • junkmail5 Nov 21, 2013

    The replacements offered are lower quality and more expensive. Pretty much what others are seeing.
    realmmmdonuts

    You mean pretty much what a MINORITY of others are seeing.

    Even BCBS admits that only about 1/3rd of individual customers are seeing that... and that's 1/3rd of a group that is already a small fraction of the market.

    Only about 125,000 total of their NC customers are seeing significant price jumps. In a state of about 10 million people.

  • junkmail5 Nov 21, 2013

    Two things: You said ONLY and I did not say WHOLESALE. So you are/were incorrect- realmmmdonuts

    Given you admit you have NO evidence to support the claim... no, you haven't shown I'm wrong at all.

    Your going "It's happening but I can't tell you about it, nudge nudge" is not especially convincing either.

    Especially when there's nothing IN THE ACTUAL LAW that would require grandfathered group plans to actually do that.

    Now, if you are claiming that employers are CHOOSING to replace such a plan with an ACA plan, they certainly COULD be doing that.

    But they aren't REQUIRED to by the law... so blaming the law for them making that choice isn't correct either.

  • realmmmdonuts Nov 21, 2013

    "... what?

    Do you have some evidence of wholesale cancelation of employer plans you can point us at?
    - junkmail5"

    Two things: You said ONLY and I did not say WHOLESALE. So you are/were incorrect.

    And no, while I do know first hand that there are employer based plans being cancelled to be replaced with ACA compliant offerings I can't divulge which companies are doing this.

    I am in the individual market and received my cancellation many weeks ago. The replacements offered are lower quality and more expensive. Pretty much what others are seeing.

  • junkmail5 Nov 21, 2013

    The president promised no one would lose their plan- ripetomatos

    yes... and when he originally made it, it was true. If you still have the same plan you have BEFORE the ACA was passed, you CAN KEEP IT.

    Obamas mistake was continuing to repeat that promise, without any date-related disclaimer, AFTER the ACA passed. Hence producing a nice little sound bite of a lie.

    That doesn't change the fact it's a small fraction of the people having it happen though.

    Wrong, there are employer offered plans caught up in the same wave even though the employer mandate has not kicked in yet.
    realmmmdonuts

    .... what?

    Do you have some evidence of wholesale cancelation of employer plans you can point us at?

    37%

    Obama's approval numbers. Enough said.......
    Sandbar33

    Yes... still 12% higher than the final Bush numbers, so he still has a long way to go.

  • Gaz Nov 21, 2013

    Who voted for that Guy ?

  • Sandbar33 Nov 21, 2013

    37%

    Obama's approval numbers. Enough said.......

  • realmmmdonuts Nov 21, 2013

    "And those folks STILL HAVE THEM.

    The cancelations were only in the individual market. - junkmail5"

    Wrong, there are employer offered plans caught up in the same wave even though the employer mandate has not kicked in yet.

  • ripetomatoes Nov 21, 2013

    Only about 3% of the population are the ones actually seeing their "plans they liked" replaced with ones costing them a lot more.

    And while 3% isn't nothing it's a long long long way from the "majority" you were just complaining about. junkmail5

    The president promised no one would lose their plan...

    I guess that person doesn't really matter if he or she is a member of that 3%, is that it?

    This liberal marketing propaganda of an article smells so sweet it is sickening...

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