Halloween can be pretty scary – but not as scary as Open Enrollment for health coverage! Dates for open enrollment typically go from November 1st to December 15th for coverage starting January 1st of the coming year. Enrolling for healthcare (Flexible Spending, Dental, Health Savings Accounts or Medicare, among others) can scare the living daylights out of even the smartest, strongest people. We are presently in or near the “Open Enrollment for Healthcare” season.
Even Richard Thaler, the behavioral economist who won the Nobel Prize in economics, has sounded in on the topic over the years. He says it is typical – for both sophisticated business owners to new employees – to panic when it comes time to hit the “Enroll” button for healthcare. The fact is a person is literally about to commit to spending thousands of dollars per year (often over $1,000 per month for families) on an entirely necessary item! Hitting the “Enroll” button is an action that people put off, sometimes even missing the deadline. Don’t miss the deadline.
A couple of pieces of advice for making healthcare enrollment easier:
- Check your latest pay stub (can be accessed online) for the totals you have spent year-to-date on healthcare premiums.
- Estimate how much you spent out-of-pocket last year on healthcare services (doesn’t need to be to the penny).
- Keep folders year-to-year of statements of medical expenses, categorized by provider (physicals, annual appointments, etc.).
- Know how much your deductible is or could be.
- Consider a Health Savings Account (IF your company offers it and IF you and your family are relatively healthy). Ask me more about this.
- Talk with your adult children who have reached the “magic age” of independent healthcare coverage or are nearing that age.
Please call me about any of these items and share the healthcare enrollment information with your kids or young people you know. Talking it over with someone objective can make the process a lot less scary.