Don't make open enrollment mistakes

October 13, 2011|Eileen Ambrose

This month and next, many workers will be called on to choose their health benefits for next year. And the choices made during open enrollment, well, you’ll be paying for them for at least a year.

It’s a good idea to read all the fine print to make sure you understand just how much you will be paying. The plan with the lowest premium isn’t necessarily the cheapest if you consider deductibles and co-pays. And more employers will be pushing more of the cost of coverage on workers' shoulders through higher deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Insurance giant Aflac released a survey of 2,220 adults last month that found about three-quarters of them admitted to making mistakes when choosing benefits. And 42 percent of them say they wasted money because of this.

Aflac says people often don’t understand everything covered under their insurance. Fifty-nine percent stick with the same benefits year after year, for example, and often don’t fully know what changes have been made to the plan.

The Affordable Care Act, the massive law that will overhaul the health care system, will help workers gain a better understanding. Starting in March, benefits experts say, plans must all have the same format to explain a plan. On top of that, you should be able to see what your plan will cost you if you develop certain common medical conditions, such as diabetes or a pregnancy.

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