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What to Watch for During Open Enrollment 2010

November brings Open Enrollment [1] 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 [2].

Remember that due to the Healthcare Reform Bill [3], your benefits selections might need a little tweaking this year. I wrote last year [1] 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 [4] 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 [5] 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 [6]. 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 [7] 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 [8] and HSAs [9] 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.