It’s benefits enrollment season! As a young professional, are you confident that you can identify the right health care benefits for your lifestyle? Or does the thought of choosing your benefits completely overwhelm you?
If the latter is the case, you’re not alone. More than half of young workers will be choosing their health care benefits for the first time this enrollment season, according to the 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report First-Time Enrollee Survey.* However, only 19% of the young adults surveyed said they felt confident when it came to selecting health care benefits, and only 31% said they felt prepared.*
In fact, a whopping 76% of American workers make decisions about their health care plans without complete knowledge of the overall benefits, according to the 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report.** As a result, workers enrolling in benefits plans for the first time may not select the option that best suits their lifestyles.
This lack of knowledge often results in hundreds of dollars down the drain. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they waste up to $750 as a result of mistakes made during open enrollment.**
If you want to make sure you get the best coverage possible without spending obscene amounts of money each month, it’s essential that you educate yourself before committing to a benefits plan so you can avoid costly mistakes. With that in mind, here’s an easy checklist to follow so you can enroll with confidence:
Set aside ample time to research.
According to the same 2017 Aflac WorkForces report, 83% of people surveyed spent less than an hour researching during their last enrollment process.** What’s worse is that 20% didn’t research at all.** Although time is a precious commodity these days, it’s critical to block off time in your calendar so you can do your homework. Make it a priority to dedicate a part of your day to research during this process to ensure you educate yourself on what options are available to you.
Learn the basics.
Deductibles, copayments, providers, oh my! It’s hard to comprehend all of the different plans when you don’t know what the terminology means. Before you dive in, take a minute to review some of the common health benefits terms and their definitions so you have a better idea of what you’re reading. If you need more help, you can check out Aflac’s innovative, interactive learning experience called DuckChat through Facebook Messenger, which is new this year. The Aflac Duck will be available 24/7 to offer smart, funny, relatable and easy-to-understand answers to some common benefits enrollment questions.
Talk to an expert.
Unfortunately, simply running a quick online search isn’t always enough to answer all of your questions. If you still find yourself confused about what plan is right for you, consider getting professional advice.
According to the Aflac report, 74% of employees said there are things they don’t understand about their policies.** If you don’t want to be left in the dark, talking to an expert might be a wise decision. In fact, 48% of employees said they would prefer to speak to an expert about their benefits, either in person or on the phone.**
During your research, write down any questions or concerns you might have when choosing your plan, and make an appointment with an expert to gain clarity.
Think about your health care costs.
Everyone has different health care needs. Some need more coverage than others. As you are reassessing your benefits plan this enrollment season, ask yourself the following questions:
- What did I spend on health care last year?
- Will my costs be similar to last year?
- What other options do I have this year?
Review your plan from last year.
If you are part of the 92% of workers who choose the same benefits year after year, you might be costing yourself money.** Plus, you might not have the coverage you had initially. Your benefits plan might have changed since the last time you looked at it, so it’s always smart to review the coverage and cost of last year’s plan to see what you need to look for this time around.
See if your employer offers voluntary insurance.
A voluntary insurance plan is an optional benefits plan offered by employers but purchased by the employee. They are valuable because the benefits are cash paid directly to the you, the policyholder, which can help cover other life expenses that go beyond the standard copayment, such as medical equipment, travel costs, lodging, or even everyday expenses like utilities and groceries.
Voluntary insurance benefits are gaining in popularity among employees, too. According to the 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report, 81% of participants said they see a growing need for voluntary insurance benefits.**
Nationally, 27% of employers offer voluntary products to their employees, most often life, short-term disability and accident. Of those, 49% do so to satisfy employee needs, interest, or demand.** So, it’s worth checking to see if your employer offers these kinds of benefits, and if they don’t offer them, perhaps you want to ask them if they would reconsider.
Don’t be left in the dark this enrollment season. Use this checklist to enroll with confidence. To learn more about benefits trends and attitudes, download the Aflac WorkForces Report here.
This post is sponsored by Aflac.
(*The 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report First-Time Enrollees Survey, conducted by Research+Data Insights Inc., captured responses from 1,000 workers across the United States.)
(**The 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report, conducted by Lightspeed, captured responses from 1,800 benefits decision-makers and 5,000 employees across the United States in various industries. https://www.aflac.com/business/resources/aflac-workforces-report/default.aspx)
Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.