alone-513525_1920Given the fact that health insurance and other benefits are often a big part of what attracts people to their jobs, it’s always surprising to us when so many don’t take full advantage of them. It’s understandable though. You’re so busy doing your actual job that you find it difficult to take the time to step back, examine all your benefit options, and make the best decisions for your family.

Don’t cruise through this year’s open enrollment on autopilot! You can start by avoiding these 5 common mistakes.

1. Mindlessly choosing the same coverage

According to a 2014 survey, 90 percent of workers pick the exact same plan every year. There are a few problems with that. For one thing, your needs or the needs of your family change over time. Even more importantly (especially in today’s changing climate), there may even be changes within your plan that you wouldn’t otherwise be aware of. Coverage and copay amounts could differ. The plan’s provider network could even change and exclude your doctor.

Not to mention, your employer may offer newer plans and perks that might be even better suited to your needs. Make sure you attend any meetings your employer offers to help explain your benefit options, and read all the plan materials. If you need more help, talk to your HR rep or give us a call!

2. Misunderstanding the rules

With employees now paying so much out of pocket for their health care, many employers are offering tax-advantaged accounts to help workers save for those expenses. But, while these savings accounts can be very advantageous, that’s only if you know the rules.

For example, health savings accounts (HSAs) allow you to roll over all used funds to the following year. However, with flexible spending accounts (FSAs), the rollover amount is limited to $500. Make sure you understand the rules of any accounts your employer offers and properly estimate how much you’ll need to save, in order to avoid losing any unused dollars.

3. Choosing based on premiums alone

It’s easy to consider your health care options and just go with the one with the lowest monthly premium. But that’s not always the plan that will cost you the least in the long run.

Make sure you understand how each plan works. Consider whether your doctors are part of the network, the deductible you must meet before coverage kicks in, your copay percentages, and the maximum you can be expected to pay out of pocket each year.

4. Passing up disability insurance

According to the Council for Disability Awareness, about one in four millenials will experience a disability at some point before they retire. Yet few people consider themselves at risk.

Consider how your family would be affected if you lost some or all of your income. Weigh the costs of signing up for disability insurance, particularly if your employer contributes towards the premiums.

5. Underestimating your need for life insurance

The life insurance your employer offers, often one or two times your annual salary, may sound like a lot. But, if you have a family that’s financially dependent on you, it might not be enough. Not to mention, you won’t get to keep that coverage if you move to another company.

If your employer offers additional coverage through their broker, consider purchasing some. If you need help determining what amount of coverage you need, we can help.


Bottom line: consider the big picture. Open enrollment is a great time, not just to pick a health plan, but to set your set up for overall financial success.