Fall signals the changing of the leaves, football Sundays, and Halloween. It is also the time of year where many of the companies in Atlanta offer open enrollment for your benefits. With the complication of benefits packages, it is more important than ever that you learn how to make smart money decisions during your two weeks of open enrollment. Here are my five smart money moves to look at when your benefits season comes this fall. Don’t wait until the last minute to check your options!!
- Your Health Insurance Plan Is Sure To Change– Insurance companies today hardly ever let a company renew its old health insurance plan. This means that you’ll likely get a new set of plans to sift through during open enrollment. If you and your partner both have company benefits make sure to weigh the pros and cons of each of your health insurance plans. Did the deductible change? Did the coinsurance change? Will you have any major surgeries coming up this year? Did the policy change for emergency visits or for prescriptions? Since premiums can change significantly in smaller and medium sized companies based upon last year’s health claim ratings, one company’s insurance programs can be cheaper than other even though it may have been more expensive the year before. Be sure to check that you doctor takes the new health carrier if you decide to make a change.
- Compare Your Regular Medical Plans Against A Health Savings Account (Review Your Out Of Pocket Medical Expenses)– You should compare the total out of pocket costs you spent last year in medical expenses, and the cost of your overall medical expenses. An HSA plan will be significantly cheaper than your normal HMO, POS, or PPO type medical plan, and can potentially give you other tax advantages. Usually, amounts will increase $50 to $100 each year for HSA contribution limits which can help you with taxes as well for 2015.
- Understand Your Life Insurance Need– Your company may allow to purchase additional term insurance for you, your spouse, and your children through work. This is a great time of year to determine whether your overall financial situation has changed, and whether you need more or less life insurance rather than just signing up for the same amount you did the year before. In addition, term insurance through work is NOT always the cheapest form of insurance. Sometimes the cost of insurance can be more expensive and most of the group insurance policies are not portable, so choose wisely on the amount and type of insurance you want for your family.
- Consider Buying Supplemental Disability Insurance– Most regular group long term disability plans cover 60% of your base salary only (not commissions, bonus, or stock options). Larger companies offer the ability to purchase supplemental long term disability insurance through work. This can be an important part of your overall financial plan as your income is really what drives reaching your financial goals. If you don’t get adequate coverage through work, then you should consider looking at getting GAP disability insurance coverage from a third party.
- 401(k) or Roth 401(k) (or both?)– To Roth or not to Roth, that is the question. Many employers have added the Roth 401(k) provision to their overall 401(k) plan. This is a great time to determine how much money to put away pre-tax and post-tax for your retirement, check your overall asset allocation, and make sure to get the automatic rebalancing set on your 401(k).