Open enrollment is around the corner for many U.S. workers. And while it may be tempting to save time by re-enrolling with the same employer-sponsored benefits you chose last year, putting these decisions on autopilot would be a missed opportunity.
The reason is simple: open enrollment is your annual chance to comprehensively reassess all your benefit selections – from health and dental coverage to insurance and retirement needs – to ensure they’re aligned with your financial and health goals.
As you navigate this window of time, know that we’re here to answer any questions and help you make informed choices on coverage. Here are seven things to consider during your review of employer benefits:
1. Recent (and forthcoming) life changes
If you’ve experienced any major changes in your personal situation, health or financial status, you’ll want to ensure your open enrollment selections still make sense in the context of these new developments. Big life events – like marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child – will likely affect how you take advantage of all your employer benefits. The same goes if your health or financial goals have changed.
As you prepare for open enrollment, take a step back to review your current life circumstances as well as anticipated changes for the coming year. By grounding yourself in this information, you’ll set yourself up for a better holistic assessment of your needs – and how your benefits may address them.
2. Medical and dental coverage
Does your health and dental coverage still suit your lifestyle and needs? Consider how you’ve utilized your coverage over the past year and think critically about what medical expenses could transpire in the year ahead. Perhaps your spouse has a major surgery planned, or maybe it’s time for your teen to get braces. These possibilities should be key considerations as you decide on your health and dental plans for the upcoming year.
Additionally, you’ll want to account for any employer-instituted changes to your health or dental care, like plan changes or increases in costs or coverage. And if you're married, it's a good idea to compare your health and dental plans with that of your spouse.
Most employees will decide between two coverage options. Here’s a quick overview:
|High-deductible health plan
Low-deductible health plan
- Higher out-of-pocket costs before plan benefits kick in
- Once you reach the plan limit, insurance covers 100% of the allowable amount until year-end
- May include option to fund a Health Savings Account (HSA)
- May be optimal for healthy individuals who don’t anticipate major health care needs
- Lower payments upfront
- Higher monthly premium
- Typically, does not include option to fund an HSA
- May be a better choice for those with chronic health conditions or costly prescriptions, participate in high-risk sports/activities, or are pregnant or planning to have kids
3. HSA eligibility and contribution limits
If you decide to enroll in a high-deductible health plan, consider enrolling in a Health Savings Account (HSA), a tax-advantaged account that enables you to use pre-tax money to cover eligible, out-of-pocket medical expenses. HSA funds that aren't spent in the calendar year can be rolled over each year, which also makes these accounts a good tool for saving for health care costs in retirement, when medical costs can be significant. Building up your HSA account during your working years can provide you with access to tax-free withdrawals to cover health care expenses in retirement.
If you’re already enrolled in an HSA, make sure you’re aware of the contribution limits, which increased for 2024, and make any adjustments if necessary.
2024 HSA limits
|Catch up (for those 55 and older)
4. FSA eligibility and enrollment
If your employer offers a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), you’ll first want to understand if it’s for dependent care or health care (or both). Here’s what to know about each:
- Dependent care FSA: Uses pre-tax dollars to pay qualified out-of-pocket dependent care expenses (like day care). Because your contributions to a Dependent Care FSA are made on a pre-tax basis, you end up paying less in taxes and taking home more of your paycheck.
- Health care FSA: Can be used for the same types of medical expenses as an HSA. Unlike HSAs, only $500 of leftover funds can be rolled over to the next year, and this rollover exception can vary by employer. Additionally, you may lose your FSA dollars if you leave the company. Check with your employer for details on their rules around FSA rollovers.
If you’re already enrolled in an FSA, make sure you’re aware of the contribution limits, and make any adjustments if necessary.
2023 health care FSA limits*
2023 dependent care FSA limits (no changes)
Married, filing separately
*Note: FSA limits for 2024 were not available as of Aug. 29th, 2023. Consider checking the contribution limits for FSAs in the first half of 2024 to allow time to change your contributions if the caps increase.
5. Your insurance needs
Review employer-provided or supplemental life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability coverage and other plan options. You may want to add a policy, review your premium amount, change your beneficiaries or increase the benefit on an existing policy.
If there's a gap between your needs and what your employer offers, we can help identify other insurance options. And please connect with us before considering reducing or eliminating a policy through your employer. It oftentimes is not as easy or affordable to add cover back after your initial benefit enrollment when you start a job.
6. Retirement contributions
While most companies allow employees to make changes to their retirement accounts throughout the year, open enrollment can be a convenient time to revisit those benefits. Consider using this window to also increase your contributions or adjust plan allocations to ensure you are at least taking advantage of any employer match benefits offered. And while you’re logged into these accounts, consider checking your beneficiaries to ensure they’re up to date.
7. New benefits
Increasingly, employers are offering benefits that extend beyond health care, retirement and insurance, so make sure you’re taking advantage of all the new perks available to you. For example, some companies are offering their workers pet insurance policies, prepaid legal plans, discounted identity theft protection and back-up childcare services.
We can help evaluate your open enrollment options
Make the most of open enrollment by using this annual opportunity to ensure your employer-sponsored benefits are in line with your personal financial and health goals. Since these benefit decisions will depend on your specific needs, know that we’re here to offer guidance and advice tailored to your personal situation.