By, State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt
Fall is here! I know some have already experienced the first chill of winter, but that’s another conversation.
Many of us North Dakotans enjoy this time of year watching the leaves change, finishing the fall harvest, football, and bonfires. This time of year is also a decision-making time for many North Dakotans. Decisions to determine what plan benefits to enroll in and which to opt-out of.
October is the time for “open enrollment” when companies open the benefits they offer to their employees and we can make changes. It is time to assess our needs and the needs of our families and make any necessary changes. Unfortunately, most of us do not take the time to review those options or to determine what is most beneficial to us and our paycheck. Here are a few things to keep in mind when your time to enroll comes along.
1. Medical Insurance
Some questions you should be asking yourself: How often do we visit our family doctor? Is anyone on prescription medication? It is important to choose a plan that is going to cover the most expenses for you and your family. Remember there is more than just your monthly premium to consider. What is the deductible? What is the required copay? What is your out of pocket limits and finally, are your providers in-network or out of network?
2. Dental and Vision
Many employers offer these plans, but the employee is required to pay the entire premium. Examine what each plan offers. Does the dental plan cover the recommended two cleanings a year? Does the vision plan cover glasses or contacts and an exam? If you generally have good dental visits you may decide to opt-out of that plan and budget to pay your dental bill as it comes up. If you do not wear contacts or glasses, it may make more sense to pay your exam out of pocket rather than purchase insurance.
3. Retirement Contribution
Is your nest egg growing or standing still? If your company offers a 401(k) match, are you taking full advantage? Are you on track to meet your goals and retire when you would like? Always be sure to review your beneficiaries. This is an extremely important piece to your open enrollment process. No one wants to consider something that could happen to us, but if it does, make sure your assets are going where YOU want them to go. If you have selected people in the past, make sure to review this as circumstances change throughout the year.
It's easy to check the same boxes from your previous enrollment period, but PLEASE take the time so you and your family are covered for any of life’s surprises.