I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Aflac. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating in the AFLAC Open Enrollment Resources Campaign.
We just completed the Open Enrollment period with our insurance company, and received our confirmation. Over the past few years, we’ve had several changes that impacted our family directly with our insurance coverage, and since we have a special needs child and two adults with some chronic health conditions, it is important that we stay up to date on exactly what our insurance covers and does not cover. Being educated and informed about your insurance coverage can save you a significant amount of money over the course of a year. A lesson we learned the hard way, is to call and verify that a provider is still an “in-network” provider before each visit. We had one doctor that the kids had been patients of for a while, that was suddenly an out of network provider, and we did not get any notice. We didn’t find out until we got the bill. Fortunately, the billing manager at the office waived the difference in the bill and only made us pay the amount we were used to paying. Lesson learned, and I now verify using the insurance company website!
AFLAC recently did a survey, and found that “69 percent of workers say their employer hasn’t communicated changes coming to their benefits package due to health care reform despite the October 1 deadline for employers to notify their employees of their coverage options.” In addition,
“• 74 percent of workers sometimes or never understand everything that is covered by their insurance policy today.
• Now, nearly 4-in-10 (37 percent) workers think it will be more difficult to understand everything in their health care
policy with the changes dictated by health care reform.
• Nearly a third (28 percent) of employees is confused, worried or simply unsure about the change their employer is
making to their health care coverage or benefits options due to health care reform.
• 60 percent of workers have not begun to educate themselves about coming changes to their benefits package
due to health care reform.”
If your company is still under the Open Enrollment Period, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to make educating yourself about your coverage a top priority! I am shocked to see that 60% of workers haven’t begun to see what changes will be affecting them. We all know that the Health Care Reform IS affecting most people in some form or fashion, not taking the time to review the changes will not stop them from being enacted, but lack of education regarding them can cost you a good deal of money down the road. Many companies are holding HR Benefits meetings to answer questions and explain the changes. A website that can be helpful in answering questions, is AFLAC Open Enrollment Resources.
Sometimes companies will offer a few choices for your health care plan. We had 3 choices, with varying premiums, deductibles, and co-pay costs. To get the lowest premium, it required a much higher deductible and co-pay for each visit. For our family, we find it more affordable to pay the highest premium to get the lowest deductible and co-pay coverage. We know that we need x number of specialist visits each year, how much monthly prescriptions cost, etc. and we factor that in when we’re calculating the cost. We know now that we have some procedures that will need to be done in the upcoming year, and we’ll be meeting our deductible in January. Planning ahead allows us to postpone costly tests/procedures now, so we can have them all done in the new year, and avoids paying this years deductible AND next years deductible. We also took time to sign up for the company Wellness Plan, getting Blood-work done and quarterly health coach sessions, which will allow us to get a substantial “rebate” towards our premium for the two adults. Our company strongly encourages employees and family members to be pro-active with their healthcare and take steps to live healthier lifestyles.
AFLAC also gives these good tips:
“• Check your spouse’s benefits package: Your employer doesn’t have to offer insurance to your spouse and as costs
increase, more companies are cutting this option. Even if your employer does offer your spouse insurance, the
company is not obligated to pay anything toward the premium. If your spouse has access to employer-sponsored
health insurance through his or her job, it may make the most financial sense to purchase two individual policies as
opposed to one family policy.
• Don’t double up: Health care reform legislation requires plans in the individual and small group markets to offer
essential health benefits like pediatric vision and dental and, chronic disease management services. Check all
aspects of your major medical plan so you know what is covered and what isn’t.”
For those of you who have significant healthcare concerns or needs, there ARE supplement plans available, from companies such as AFLAC. These cover accidents, hospital stays, or critical illness plans, which can help you reduce rising health care expenses. If your primary employer health care plan is changing, and you are worried about your part of the bill (deductible, co-pay, etc) I encourage you to look into these supplements to your plan.