What to Watch for During Open Enrollment 2010

Posted by Jill on November 15, 2010

November brings Open Enrollment for many people. Open Enrollment is the time of the year when you can add or change benefits offered through your employer. For many people, the most significant part of this process is selecting a health insurance plan.

Remember that due to the Healthcare Reform Bill, your benefits selections might need a little tweaking this year. I wrote last year about how to navigate the often-overwhelming Open Enrollment process, but want to add a few more thoughts to help you take this year’s changes into effect.

Things to Look For During Open Enrollment 2010

  • Free Preventative Care: Insurers are now required to offer all in-network preventative care without any out-of-pocket cost beyond premiums – that means no copays or deductibles. If you primarily use your health insurance for preventative care, you might want to revisit your past selection to see if it still works best for you – it might make sense to select a High Deductible Health Plan since the premiums will be lower and you will have few if any expenses subject to the deductible.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for children under 19 due to pre-existing conditions. If you have not been able to cover your child due to a pre-existing condition, you may be able to add your child now. Check with your benefits contact for more details.
  • Lifetime limits: Insurance policies can no longer contain lifetime limits. If you have a chronic health condition and maintain private insurance in addition to your employer-sponsored benefits, you may be able to drop the outside policy. Check with your benefits contact for more details.
  • Adult children: Adult children under age 26 can be covered on a parent’s plan as long as they do not have the option of coverage at their own workplace. However, the parent will most likely need to select (and pay for) this coverage – it will not happen automatically, even if the child was covered in the past. If your child needs coverage make sure to make this election. Check with your employer to see if you can also add these children to existing vision or dental plans.
  • Flexible Spending and Health Spending Account changes: As mentioned before, the new healthcare law limited the use of FSAs and HSAs for over-the-counter drugs, and imposed limits where they didn’t exist before. If you have contributed in the past, make sure your contribution is appropriate for the spending you will actually do this year – especially for FSAs where you lose the funds at the end of the year.

If you’ve already selected your benefits and saw something here that made you second-guess your choices, check with HR to see if you can make adjustments. At my office you can make adjustments through the end of the year, even though selections are initially due in mid-November.

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Comments to What to Watch for During Open Enrollment 2010

  1. For Federal Employees, at least in the DC area, Washington Consumers Checkbook provides a service that makes it very simple and quick to compare plans based on your family size and expected amount of coverage needed. It costs $10, but when you consider how much you will save with just one correct decision, that’s nothing. Check them out on their website.

    Rory Rohde

  2. I am having difficulty on understanding the FSA and HSA restrictions. What is the benefit on blocking the use of an HSA on items that are specifically designed to benefit the person in a medical way (i.e. aspirin and eyeglasses)? That is the only way I can conceivably predict the use of a savings account (I have had one ER visit and one doctors visit in the past ten years, no other medical expenses).


    • This is one of those things you got find out about in the HealthCare bill after it passed.
      It gets worse. In a couple of years the upper limit will be reduced to $2,500.

      Rory Rohde

      • That really turns me away from those health plans. My wife and I had been looking to use an FSA/HSA in the next few years, when we have young children needing daycare, where the pre-tax use would have been wonderful. Apparently we will miss out on the full extent of that benefit, if we use the plan at all.


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