As a result of switching jobs in May I had to reselect health care benefits this past week for when I become eligible in September. For many this can be an overwhelming feat. I know the first time I ever selected health care benefits I was so consumed with "what if's" that I ended up choosing one of the most expensive plans my employer offered because I wanted to be covered "just in case". I've learned a lot since then especially when it comes down to how much coverage I actually need. Here are a few things I've learned over the years about selecting health care benefits.
Compare All Costs
This goes for most things in life, but especially for health care, because of the numerous out of pocket expenses you can incur like co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance etc. The first time I chose a health care plan I went for one with $0 deductible (because I had no money for one) which resulted in a higher premium and outrageously high co-pays. As a girl in her mid-twenties, with no kids or prior medical conditions having such a low deductible was unnecessary. I had really let the "what-ifs" consume me. I made the mistake of not comparing all the costs and determining the cost of the plan to me over the course of a regular year and it cost me big time. This time around knowing what I do now, that my doctor's office visits are routine, I went with a plan that has a lower bi-weekly deduction, a $250 deductible, and reasonable co-pays. Which netted me a savings of around $300 compared to the higher price option.
Use your FSA
An "FSA" is a flexible spending account. If you are able to enroll it is well worth taking advantage of. An FSA does require a bi-weekly payroll deduction but it is essentially tax free money that you can put toward health related items including co-pays, prescriptions, and even cold medicine. One thing to be mindful of is you need to use up all the money you put in there with the benefit years or else kiss it goodbye. You get to pick the dollar amount you contribute so if it is your first year using one I would low ball your estimate to ensure you use it all. To be honest I have never used an FSA before, but am planning on enrolling in one for my 2011 benefit period.
Seriously. We already know the serious harm it does to your body but it's probably killing your paycheck too. Not only do states tax the hell out of cigarettes but you are most likely paying that much more for your health care because you are "riskier".
No thank you.
Re-Evaluate Each Year
Each year during open enrollment re-evaluate your situation. Has anything changed in the last year? You want your health care to work for you, but only you can decide if it is.
After you've saved all that money you can enjoy something from the August J.Crew catalogue...