Open Enrollment – Are You Prepared?

Closeup of an employee benefit packageSeptember 23rd marked the first official day of Autumn. Open enrollment for many individuals typically accompanies the welcomed arrival of the fall season. Also known as “annual enrollment”, open enrollment is a period of time when individuals may make additions, changes or deletions to their elected employee benefits, individual health insurance, or Medicare coverage. Whether you are working and need to update your benefits package at work, are retired and eligible for Medicare benefits, or are under age 65 and not covered by a group health insurance policy, you should consider your options before the designated open enrollment period begins.

Employee Benefits

Know when open enrollment begins and ends for your company. Typically, open enrollment for employee benefits begins in the fall of each year, but the timing will vary slightly from company to company. The specific time period and details for your employer’s plan(s) will be communicated by your HR department, so remember to open and read all communications you receive regarding your group plans. We’ve seen a number of companies institute changes to spousal benefits and health insurance plans over the past few years. Be sure to review the details of your plans carefully for any changes that may affect your family.

As we all know, employer plans can change from year to year, as can your personal family circumstances. Therefore, it is important to reevaluate where you are today and what your situation may look like in 2015, as the changes you make during open enrollment will take effect in the beginning of next year. Stay educated on your benefit plans at work to ensure you are taking full advantage of the appropriate savings vehicles and insurance coverages for your situation. Contact your financial advisor if you have questions about the most appropriate levels of coverage. We can help you proactively address any issues that may be on the horizon and decide if changes should be made to your coverage levels or deferral elections for 2015.

Medicare

Open enrollment for Medicare benefits begins October 15 and runs through December 7, 2014. It is important to note, Medicare benefits are separate and distinct from the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you are eligible for Medicare, you do not need to apply for health insurance through the Marketplace. All covered individuals who are not currently covered by an employer are eligible for Medicare coverage at age 65. Whether you are enrolling in Medicare for the first time, or need to make changes to your current supplemental coverage, be sure that your changes are completed by December 7th, when open enrollment closes to ensure an effective date of January 1.  Available supplemental plans and prescription drug plans (Part D) change annually, so you should carefully re-evaluate each year to ensure you make the best choice for your situation.  Visit medicare.gov to learn more.

Individual Health Insurance

Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace opens November 15, 2014 and closes February 15, 2015. Coverage can start as early as January 1, 2015.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is designed to give individuals access to health insurance that do not otherwise have coverage through their employer or Medicare. Your home state may have a state-specific exchange where you can purchase health insurance. You will be redirected to your state’s exchange website if this is the case. If you would like to learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace, read our blogs, The Affordable Care Act – Considerations for the Consumer and The Affordable Care Act Considerations for Small Business Owners, or visit healthcare.gov to learn how you can prepare for enrollment.

As always, you can contact one of our advisors if you have questions for your particular situation.

The information provided in this blog should be used as a general guideline. Consult your financial advisor before making any changes to your situation.