Preparing for Open Enrollment

Making the Most of Open Enrollment


WHEN YOU RECEIVE your open enrollment paperwork this year, give it more than a cursory glance. Employers are continuing to shift the burden of health-care costs onto employees, meaning you'll likely be paying more next year to stay healthy. The average worker can expect to spend $3,600 toward premiums and out-of-pocket health-care costs in 2008, an increase of $330 from this year, according to benefits consultant Hewitt Associates.

But the open enrollment period — which typically runs from late October through mid-December — is more than a head's up on cost increases. It's your one shot to review your choice of health-insurance plans, set aside contributions for flexible spending accounts and make any number of other health- and benefits-related decisions that could ultimately save you plenty of money. Think of it as your fiscal physical exam for 2008. Here's how to make the most of it:

Summary points:

  1. Anticipate Future Costs
  2. Increase Your 401(k) Contribution
  3. Pledge to Stay Healthy
  4. Opt In to Pretax Accounts
  5. Take Advantage of Small Perks

Comment: I've been on Kathee's healthcare insurance since 1990 ... but next year I will be on my own. With all the kids on their own financially, we can save a few bucks by each of us having our own health insurance (sounds counter-intutitive!). I went to the Open Enrollment seminar yesterday and then last night read through the health care options. COMPLEX! New option for us this year: a high deductable plan with a health care spending account.

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