How to Save on Health Care with Open Enrollment

Most companies are looking to reduce their contributions or transfer a greater portion of health care costs over to their employees. Open enrolment, during which you can change your coverage options, gives you the chance to adjust your plans if the current coverage is turning out to be too expensive for you. For most Americans, this is the only time every year they can make any changes to their prescription costs.

Premiums, co-payments and deductibles are likely to increase in the months ahead especially since Medicare cannot negotiate drug prices. You need to identify ways to reduce the effect this is going to have on your budget.

Flexible spending account

Certain bills like dentist visits or eye care costs may not be covered under your insurance plan. If these are recurring costs, it makes sense to contribute more money to your flexible spending account (FSA). FSA contributions are exempted for federal, state, and most payroll taxes. Depending on the tax bracket, you could save as much as 30% on your medical bills, because you’ll be using pretax dollars to make those expenses.

You can also look at other similar options like Health Savings Account (HSA) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA). However, the deductibles on these plans are higher. This year, you can qualify for HSA contributions only if you pay $1200 for an individual and double that for a family.

Reduce your prescription costs

You should compare the prescription plans in your open enrolment packages, and find out with each insurer whether the medication you need will be covered next year. If you require monthly prescriptions, you can check whether their health insurance includes mail-order drugs. This may turn out to be a cheaper option than buying from a pharmacy, as long as it is covered.

You can also end up saving $1000 each year by opting for generic medication. Last year, it was estimated that around 53% of insured people used generic prescription medication instead of branded ones.

Dependent health care

Some employer sponsored insurance plans now require the primary insured to bear a part of the premium costs where their dependents (spouse and children) are also covered. You can look for more affordable options for this during open enrolment. You should also explore the possibility of opening a dependent care account for your children since you can contribute pretax dollars up to a limit of $5,000 to such an account.

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