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Open Enrollment & How You Can Help Your Employees

Many companies are fast approaching open enrollment, and it's vital to help employees gain insights about their benefits.

The Hartford's Future of Benefits Pulse Survey found that "nearly half (48 percent) of U.S. workers report that inflation is making it difficult to pay for their benefits. And 40 percent said inflation will make them scale back on the benefits they choose during open enrollment for 2023."

You can help your employees by asking them to consider significant health and relationship changes before making their selections. You can also provide them with the questions below they should be asking themselves.

1. Has the prescription drug coverage changed?

Prescription drug costs can get prohibitive. If you or your family are currently on medication, check the formulary (the list of the generic and brand-name drugs included in the plan). Make sure your medications are covered, and find out what the copay will be.

You will also want to check if your employer implemented exclusions or established new approval process provisions that might mean your drugs are no longer covered, must be preapproved, or will cost you more money.

2: Do my spouse or children need coverage, and if so, is there an additional surcharge?

If you already have coverage for a working spouse, find out if your employer is adding or increasing the amount of an existing surcharge. Also, if your spouse is working, compare family plans to see which company offers better coverage for you and your family.

3: Are my preferred doctors and other medical service providers still in the network?

Find out which new plan options accept your current healthcare providers.

If your employer has negotiated lower costs with certain providers, consider switching some or all of your providers to lower your costs.

4: Has my employer changed administrators for medical benefits?

If administrators change, ensure you are aware of any new services or processing needs. Third-party administrators handle claims and offer other services related to the medical benefits program. A new administrator may not affect employees' costs, but they may have a new phone number to contact or a new process to follow when making claims or seeking information.

5: Is the employer offering new or expanded options for receiving care that might benefit me?

Telehealth visits are considerably less expensive than in-person doctor's offices, urgent care clinics, or emergency room visits and are an example of expanded services. Make sure you understand which of these services are accessible to you and the conditions in which they would be most advantageous.

6: Has the employer added new or expanded voluntary benefits?

Traditional voluntary benefits like dental, vision, life and disability insurance may make sense for employees depending on their requirements. In addition, emerging benefits like student debt refinancing, identity theft protection, and even pet insurance may be appealing.

7: Does the employer's wellness plan have new features to help me manage my health or save money?

Many employers offer financial coaching, lifestyle coaching, fitness-tracking incentives, and discounted gym memberships at no additional cost.

8: Is there added or expanded coverage for complementary or alternative services?

Complementary and alternative health services like physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage have become more widespread, and many health plans provide little or no reimbursement for them. Determine if your health plan or other forms of coverage provided by your employer will reimburse you for any or all of your expenditures, even if you can afford to pay the total cost of these services yourself.

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