Open Enrollment: Looking Backward to Plan Forward

Open Enrollment: Looking Backward to Plan Forward

When the autumn leaves fall and the weather turns cooler, we know it’s time to start thinking of open enrollment. Open enrollment season can be a confusing time. As you begin your research into which plan to choose or even how much to contribute to your Health Savings Account (HSA), consider evaluating how you used your health plan last year. Looking backward can help you plan forward to make the most of your health care dollars for the coming year.  Here’s what you need to know about your workplace benefits to maximize them:

1).  Know the Open Enrollment Dates

It is up to you to make sure you take advantage of the open enrollment period. Be sure you know when your company has open enrollment because it can be your only time to adjust benefits for the coming year.

2).  Evaluate Your Current Benefits

Before open enrollment starts, review the benefits you currently are receiving. Your pay stub can be an excellent resource to find this information; you should be able to find the benefits you are paying for under the deductions or withdrawals section.  Standard deductions might include medical insurance, dental insurance, 401(k) contributions, life insurance, vision insurance, long- term disability insurance, health savings account or flexible spending account contributions, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.  Review those deductions to make sure you know what you’re paying for and whether you actually used the benefits.

3).  Ask These Questions to Decide What Benefits You Need

Everyone’s situation is different, but most employees should have at least medical, dental and vision insurance and make contributions to a 401(k) or similar workplace retirement savings account.

When evaluating your benefits package, consider what your needs will be or what life changes you can expect for the coming year:

  • Do you have a medical condition that requires ongoing care such as diabetes or heart disease?
  • Are you trying to get pregnant or are expecting a baby?
  • Are you getting married (or divorced)?
  • Is your child turning 26 and can no longer be covered under your health insurance?
  • Does your significant other have coverage, or will you need to include your partner in your health coverage?
  • Are you on track for retirement, or do you need to save more? Don’t forget to take advantage of your company match in your retirement account. This is free money for the future.

All of these are essential questions to ask yourself during the open enrollment season because they can make a difference in what benefits you choose to elect.  As you browse the different options, analyze the type of treatment and the amount of treatment you have received in the past. You cannot foresee every expense but focusing on the trends will help you make a sound decision.

4). Compare Out-of-Pocket Cost

Much like health networks, out-of-pocket costs are crucial when choosing the right plan for you and your family. Most health benefits summaries should highlight the amount you will pay in out-of-pocket expenses, including the pocket limit.

Your goal in comparing out-of-pocket costs is to narrow down the plans that pay a higher percentage of your medical expenses and offer higher monthly premiums. These types of plans are suitable for you if:

  • You need emergency care frequently
  • You are planning to have surgery soon
  • You often see a primary care physician
  • You have a pre-existing condition or have been diagnosed with a chronic disease like cancer or diabetes
  • Your household income is sufficient to cover the monthly premiums

5).  Do the Math

People focus on the monthly premium, but you also need to look at the deductible. For instance, if you have a choice between a lower silver plan premium of $345 a month for a plan with a $5,500 deductible, and a higher gold plan premium at $465 a month with a $1,750 deductible, you’re better off with the second plan if you anticipate needing more than $1,500 in medical care. With the second plan, your total annual cost for the premium and deductible comes to $7,330, a $2,310 savings over the lower premium plan.

6).  Look at Out-of-Pocket Costs

The deductible is just one out-of-pocket expense; you also have copayments and coinsurance. The three together are your maximum out-of-pocket costs. Under the Affordable Care Act, the maximum out-of-pocket limit is $8,550 for a single person and $17,100 for a family policy.

7).  Utilize Tax-Free Benefits

Flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), and dependent care spending accounts provide wonderful tax advantages because contributions are made with before-tax income.  They can be used to pay for deductibles, prescriptions and health-related costs that are not covered by your insurance (braces, eyeglasses, etc.). At the end of the year, you lose any money left over in your FSA so it’s important to plan carefully and not put more money in your FSA that you think you’ll spend.  However, with an HSA, funds roll over from year to year which makes it a great way to save for future medical costs.

8).  Review the Provider List

Most health plans today have “in-network” providers. If you see those doctors and visit those hospitals, you pay less out of pocket than if you go outside the network. So, if you want to keep your own doctor and go to a certain hospital, make sure they’re on the provider list.

When it comes to choosing the best workplace benefits plan for you, education is your most significant defense against making substantial financial mistakes, including not taking full advantage of your employer’s benefits.  If you have questions about any of the benefits offered, ask your HR department for help or clarification.  And remember, looking backward on your past habits and expenses can be an important tool to help you plan forward for next year.

How to Use Early Open Enrollment for Employee Retention | CA Benefits Consultants

How to Use Early Open Enrollment for Employee Retention | CA Benefits Consultants

Amid the economic panic last year, workers were unwilling to sacrifice job security for a new work environment.  Many workers felt it was foolish to re-enter the job market during a shut down.  However, in 2021, employers have experienced high turnover rates and experts are now predicting a “turnover tsunami” in voluntary departures and resignations.  Current projections estimate that 3.3 million Americans will leave their jobs by December in search of new ones.

Turnover is expensive: the processes of recruiting, hiring, on-boarding and training cost extensive time but is also a considerable investment. When an employee leaves, the company not only loses a valuable resource but also has to re-distribute duties to other team members in the interim of finding a replacement.  The team members who absorb the additional responsibilities reach their own tolerance thresholds.

Employers are always looking for ways to sweeten the attain and retain talented employees.  For any job offer, salary will remain a crucial aspect but benefits also play an important role in overall employee compensation. This year more than ever, employers have a unique opportunity to show employees how valued they are and may convince those who are seeking a new job to remain through their benefits.  So, what are some of the top benefits employees are looking for right now?

  • Health Insurance

This staple benefit is of the utmost importance to job candidates and typically includes coverage for their families.  In fact, 46% of U.S. adults said health insurance was the either the deciding factor or a positive influence in choosing their current job.  And 56% said that employer-sponsored health coverage is a key factor in deciding to stay in their current job.

  • Retirement

The most common type of retirement benefits is the 401(k) plan.  This allows employees to deduct a certain percentage of each paycheck to put towards retirement savings.  Some businesses choose to match the employee’s deduction or up to a certain percentage.

  • Disability

Employers can offer short -term disability (STD) or long-term disability (LTD) insurance to their employees.  If an insured employee is injured or has a lengthy illness, the benefit pays them during the period of time they are unable to work.  STD pays a portion of an employee’s salary if temporarily become sick or are unable to work.  LTD payments are paid to employees who have a permanent illness or injury preventing them from performing their duties.

  • Life Insurance

Life insurance and accidental death & dismemberment insurance (AD&D) are important as employees look to the future and want reassurance in protecting their families.

Employers should also consider some perks that have become increasingly sought after.  Perks are something that is in addition to the employee’s salary and benefits package that may sway an employee to value one employer over another.  Some of the most valued perks in 2021 are:

  • Mental Health Resources

Wellbeing and mental health provisions have taken on a new significance in the last 12 months.  Employers can offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which helps employees to solve problems – whether those relate to finances or other non-work stresses. But employers are also offering more comprehensive mental health services such as counseling or therapy.  48% of employees indicated they had experienced high levels of stress over the last year and are looking for support for stress, burnout, and other mental health issues.

  • Flexibility/Remote Work Options

Remote work and flexibility have always been popular among employees but their importance soared in light of the pandemic.  Flexibility has been a key factor in providing for employees who have had changes in their life such as caring for a chronically ill loved one or those who suddenly had virtual school for their children.  In fact, 76% of workers said they would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.

  • Paid Time Off

This past year has served as a reminder that employee’s lives don’t just revolve around work.  With pets and children crashing our Zoom calls, and other responsibilities – including eldercare and childcare – on many worker’s minds, it’s evident that employees have other responsibilities and priorities that distract us from work.  During the pandemic, one in four women considered leaving the workforce or scaled back their work role because of added family caregiving pressures.

Many employees don’t understand the benefits they chose during open enrollment – which means some employees may be looking for a new job for benefits or perks they already have!  Now more than ever, it is critical for employers to start communicating early about open enrollment.  Getting the word out about open enrollment and available benefits will help employees weigh the advantages of guaranteed perks and benefits with searching for a new job.  Giving employees more time to understand their benefits is crucial to employee retention and contentment.

 

End of Year Healthcare

End of Year Healthcare

As the weather turns cooler and shopping centers get busier, it’s easy to surmise that it’s nearing the end of the year. Are we all ready for 2020 to be over?! Yes, please! Since we are closing in on 2021, it’s time for you to maximize your healthcare plan by taking advantage of end-of-year healthcare benefits.

HAVE YOU MET YOUR DEDUCTIBLE YET?

Before you continue reading, look over your insurance plan details and check your deductible amount. Then, check with your HR advisor and see where you are with your benefits per their records and the insurance company records to ensure you have all the information you need regarding these details. Now that you have all your ducks in a row, let’s look at some ways to make sure you are maximizing your healthcare benefits before year-end.

THINGS TO DO LIST

  • Refill prescriptions—maybe get 90-day supplies so they last beyond the start of the new year
  • Schedule lab work
  • Schedule imaging
  • Visit the dermatologist
  • Visit the optometrist—get new glasses or contact lenses
  • Schedule preventive screenings like:
    • Endoscopy
    • Colonoscopy
    • Prostate cancer
    • Lung cancer
  • Schedule elective surgeries like:
    • Hysterectomy
    • Gallbladder
    • Joint replacement
    • Weight loss
    • Thyroid
    • Eye
    • Back
  • Go to physical therapy for an injury
  • Visit your PCP for preventive care
  • Visit the dentist

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Before you go whole-hog on scheduling these appointments, you need to consider some things first.

  • Think about the additional costs associated with procedures like physical therapy post-surgery. You should calculate the cost of having the surgery this calendar year and starting PT after the new year begins and your deductible resets versus doing everything next year.
  • Many dental plans have yearly maximums so it may be better to split up some dental procedures between this year and next.
  • Make sure you stay in your network when you schedule these appointments or else your insurance coverage won’t be as robust as you thought.
  • Use your FSA money before the end of the year because these funds are “use it or lose it.”
    • The IRS does give you a grace period of 2 ½ months to spend your money

BONUS TIPS

As a couple bonus tips:

  • Check your plan’s terms about coinsurance so you know if this will come into play even after meeting your deductible.
  • Increase your HSA contributions to max out your account before the end of the year. The IRS, again, gives you some extra time in the following year to keep contributing to the prior year’s account. But, not maxing out your contribution amount means that you aren’t reaping the benefits of this tax-free money.

Making sure you are fully utilizing your healthcare plan at the end of the year is a smart move for every healthcare consumer. Begin crossing things off this “To Do List” today!

End of Year Healthcare

End of Year Healthcare

As the weather turns cooler and shopping centers get busier, it’s easy to surmise that it’s nearing the end of the year. Are we all ready for 2020 to be over?! Yes, please! Since we are closing in on 2021, it’s time for you to maximize your healthcare plan by taking advantage of end-of-year healthcare benefits.

HAVE YOU MET YOUR DEDUCTIBLE YET?

Before you continue reading, look over your insurance plan details and check your deductible amount. Then, check with your HR advisor and see where you are with your benefits per their records and the insurance company records to ensure you have all the information you need regarding these details. Now that you have all your ducks in a row, let’s look at some ways to make sure you are maximizing your healthcare benefits before year-end.

THINGS TO DO LIST

  • Refill prescriptions—maybe get 90-day supplies so they last beyond the start of the new year
  • Schedule lab work
  • Schedule imaging
  • Visit the dermatologist
  • Visit the optometrist—get new glasses or contact lenses
  • Schedule preventive screenings like:
    • Endoscopy
    • Colonoscopy
    • Prostate cancer
    • Lung cancer
  • Schedule elective surgeries like:
    • Hysterectomy
    • Gallbladder
    • Joint replacement
    • Weight loss
    • Thyroid
    • Eye
    • Back
  • Go to physical therapy for an injury
  • Visit your PCP for preventive care
  • Visit the dentist

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Before you go whole-hog on scheduling these appointments, you need to consider some things first.

  • Think about the additional costs associated with procedures like physical therapy post-surgery. You should calculate the cost of having the surgery this calendar year and starting PT after the new year begins and your deductible resets versus doing everything next year.
  • Many dental plans have yearly maximums so it may be better to split up some dental procedures between this year and next.
  • Make sure you stay in your network when you schedule these appointments or else your insurance coverage won’t be as robust as you thought.
  • Use your FSA money before the end of the year because these funds are “use it or lose it.”
    • The IRS does give you a grace period of 2 ½ months to spend your money

BONUS TIPS

As a couple bonus tips:

  • Check your plan’s terms about coinsurance so you know if this will come into play even after meeting your deductible.
  • Increase your HSA contributions to max out your account before the end of the year. The IRS, again, gives you some extra time in the following year to keep contributing to the prior year’s account. But, not maxing out your contribution amount means that you aren’t reaping the benefits of this tax-free money.

Making sure you are fully utilizing your healthcare plan at the end of the year is a smart move for every healthcare consumer. Begin crossing things off this “To Do List” today!

End of Year Healthcare

End of Year Healthcare

As the weather turns cooler and shopping centers get busier, it’s easy to surmise that it’s nearing the end of the year. Are we all ready for 2020 to be over?! Yes, please! Since we are closing in on 2021, it’s time for you to maximize your healthcare plan by taking advantage of end-of-year healthcare benefits.
HAVE YOU MET YOUR DEDUCTIBLE YET?
Before you continue reading, look over your insurance plan details and check your deductible amount. Then, check with your HR advisor and see where you are with your benefits per their records and the insurance company records to ensure you have all the information you need regarding these details. Now that you have all your ducks in a row, let’s look at some ways to make sure you are maximizing your healthcare benefits before year-end.
THINGS TO DO LIST

  • Refill prescriptions—maybe get 90-day supplies so they last beyond the start of the new year
  • Schedule lab work
  • Schedule imaging
  • Visit the dermatologist
  • Visit the optometrist—get new glasses or contact lenses
  • Schedule preventive screenings like:
    • Endoscopy
    • Colonoscopy
    • Prostate cancer
    • Lung cancer
  • Schedule elective surgeries like:
    • Hysterectomy
    • Gallbladder
    • Joint replacement
    • Weight loss
    • Thyroid
    • Eye
    • Back
  • Go to physical therapy for an injury
  • Visit your PCP for preventive care
  • Visit the dentist

THINGS TO CONSIDER
Before you go whole-hog on scheduling these appointments, you need to consider some things first.

  • Think about the additional costs associated with procedures like physical therapy post-surgery. You should calculate the cost of having the surgery this calendar year and starting PT after the new year begins and your deductible resets versus doing everything next year.
  • Many dental plans have yearly maximums so it may be better to split up some dental procedures between this year and next.
  • Make sure you stay in your network when you schedule these appointments or else your insurance coverage won’t be as robust as you thought.
  • Use your FSA money before the end of the year because these funds are “use it or lose it.”
    • The IRS does give you a grace period of 2 ½ months to spend your money

BONUS TIPS
As a couple bonus tips:

  • Check your plan’s terms about coinsurance so you know if this will come into play even after meeting your deductible.
  • Increase your HSA contributions to max out your account before the end of the year. The IRS, again, gives you some extra time in the following year to keep contributing to the prior year’s account. But, not maxing out your contribution amount means that you aren’t reaping the benefits of this tax-free money.

Making sure you are fully utilizing your healthcare plan at the end of the year is a smart move for every healthcare consumer. Begin crossing things off this “To Do List” today!

Gamification and Open Enrollment | California Benefits Experts

Gamification and Open Enrollment | California Benefits Experts

Open enrollment season is upon us and many companies are choosing to host “virtual benefits fairs” instead of the traditional “walk and talk” fairs. Open enrollment meetings have turned into live streaming events or recorded webinars. Incentivizing employee participation in these areas can come in a variety of ways but the newest trend is gamification.
Gamification has been defined as “behavior modification using technology.” It involves rewarding employee behaviors that help accomplish a company’s goals and objectives through playing some sort of competitive game. For example, company ABC is having their open enrollment meetings online. They want all employees to watch the overview presentation by the HR department as well as view the enrollment resources. Through gamification, the company creates a series of milestones on a virtual gameboard. Different departments are challenged to work their way through the milestones and the first team successfully completing the game wins. The winning team receives bragging rights and a cash reward. Another option for this same contest is that the individual earns a reward for progressing through the gameboard. This example isn’t tied to a team-driven competition, but instead an incentive for the individual to complete the open enrollment process.
WHY GAMIFICATION WORKS
It’s been reported that 75% of the total global workforce in 2025 will be made up of millennials.  That’s three out of every 4 workers who are very engaged online. Gaming in general has a large appeal to this age group so tying it to workplace objectives results in higher participation on the whole. Additionally, the act of accomplishing a task releases dopamine in the brain. This is the neurotransmitter that causes you to feel excited and your brain likes that! In fact, your brain will begin associating euphoria with completing, what one previously thought was “boring”, work. This is called the “reward cycle” and can be achieved through gamification in the workplace.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT GAMIFICATION
Don’t go into this season with the expectation that gamification will solve all your past issues. It won’t. But what it will do is, perhaps, achieve some pretty big behavior changes like increasing the education level of your employees about what benefits they receive with their plan. What it won’t do is make enrollment delays disappear!  So, how do you get started? There are great online sources that offer packages to fit your objectives and goals for your company. FinancesOnline has compiled a list of the top five most popular gamification software companies. Beyond that, you can simply make a “wish list” of open enrollment tasks you want your employees to complete and set an award for achieving those milestones—it doesn’t have to be big—make it a tshirt or a department happy hour with a shaved ice truck! Don’t forget to  create a simple gameboard either online or in person for everyone to see the challenges and the rewards.
Most Popular Gamification Software

  1. Tango Card. An all-in-one gamification platform that helps organizations deliver incentives to customers, employees, suppliers, and partners. Our Tango Card review offers a detailed walkthrough of the product’s capability.
  2. Influitive. A customer-centric gamification solution designed to help businesses reward their loyal customers. This Influitive review offers a comprehensive tour of the product features.
  3. Badgeville. A reliable gamification software that bundles a customer loyalty program and employee incentive system into a single platform. Our Badgeville review will help you learn all about this powerful solution.
  4. Hoopla. A powerful incentive platform that leverages live game mechanics to invigorate burnt-out employees working in fast-paced environments like telemarketing and call centers. This Hoopla review details its full capability.
  5. GetBadges. A reliable gamification software designed to help software development teams incentivize teams during product development stages. This GetBadges review will walk you through the product’s features.

This is the perfect time to start something new for your open enrollment period because the landscape of the traditional office is all something new. People are learning to expect the unexpected so jump on board and offer them a new way of being rewarded for completing enrollment tasks. But, remember, if an employee isn’t already motivated to work towards a goal, gamification isn’t going to make them start.  Gamification only amplifies existing motivation.