Do you get confused and overwhelmed when trying to understand your employee benefits? Know that you’re not alone. Understanding your employee benefits and how to use them will help you get the most value from your benefit package. Even if you don’t utilize all of them, you can still take advantage of a few, if offered, such as 401(k), FSA or HSA savings accounts, employee assistance programs, and life insurance.
Understanding Your Benefits
Know what benefits are available by reviewing your benefit plan information and become familiar with deductibles, out-of-pocket costs and utilize in-network providers. Learning about the different benefit plans your employer offers can help you find what suits you best.
Consider an FSA (flexible spending account) or an HSA (health savings account coupled with a high-deductible health plan) if your employer offers it. Both options provide an opportunity to set aside money for health care expenses with pre-tax dollars with annual contribution limits. FSAs have deadlines for using the funds in the plan year with a “use it or lose it” rule and, while some have a limited allowable rollover amount announced each year, you’ll want to be conservative when choosing your contribution. HSAs, on the other hand, allow your contributions to roll over and go with you when you leave the company.
Make 401(k) contributions a priority. If your employer offers a 401(k), take advantage of it as many employers provide a company match. It’s a great way to save for your retirement no matter how young or old you are. Saving now provides you a financial nest egg for the future even if you make just a small contribution. Over time your account grows and plus, who wants to turn down free money from your employer? Did you know that you can also rollover a previous employer’s qualifying 401(k) to your new job? Rolling it over makes it easier to track and reduce any account management fees you might incur by keeping two 401(k) plans.
Check out your companies Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAP benefits provide free, voluntary confidential services that can help employees with personal and family problems, crisis issues and work/life balance concerns through a helpline, assessments and counseling services that provide support and resources for life’s challenges.
Don’t forget about company paid benefits like life insurance and disability. Most companies provide their full-time employees with life insurance and disability. Life insurance can provide you that financial support for lost wages to your survivors and typically covers one year of salary. Disability may provide you and your family a source of income when you can’t work due to a serious illness or injury. You may even have the option of purchasing additional coverages.
Getting The Most Out of Your Benefits
If you don’t already have a primary doctor, it’s a great idea to make an appointment as soon as you sign up for medical coverage.
Download the carrier apps to always have your information at hand and use their websites where you’ll find valuable information about your plans, resources and any wellness programs offered. Some wellness programs even offer incentives where you can earn cash rewards.
Take advantage of healthcare preventative care services that are covered 100%. These services are key to staying healthy and detecting problems early.
One of the perks that may come along with your medical insurance is telehealth services, either free or with a low copay, where health care providers conduct patient appointments via phone or video conference. Utilize these services for minor health issues whenever possible, from the comfort of your home.
Learn more about your companies benefits through your employer’s Benefit Team or Human Resources and don’t be afraid to ask questions. They’ll be able to educate you, so you can understand your benefits better and recognize that your employer has invested in your benefit package because they care about the health and well-being of their employees.