Researching Your Insurance Benefits is Time Well Spent

As we prepare for the fall season, we get wrapped up in back to school shopping, after school snacks, and other seasonal preparation.  With everything going on, it is easy to forget that it is open enrollment for health insurance.  I never knew how important insurance was until my dad had a heart attack several years ago.  It was a very stressful time period, and it was a big relief for us the next day when someone came out to discuss his benefits.  I know this ordeal has greatly impacted the way my dad studies  his benefits and looks at open enrollment, and it’s definitely had an impact on me as well.

Researching Your Insurance Benefits

The whole process of researching insurance benefits probably sounds boring and tedious to most people, so to help with the process, I recommend looking at your options with your spouse.  This way you can bounce ideas off each other, discussing your current and future needs, and you will both know what you are getting. I like to think of it as a board meeting for your household.  And if you need help getting your counterpart to the table for the meeting, consider a nice bribe, such as their favorite meal!

To keep the meeting from running all night, I’ve learned to consider our budget first, and this narrows down our decisions quite a bit.  From there, we look at our healthcare needs, based on our past history and current circumstances, but I’ve also learned to account for future problems and emergencies.  When you consider these things, it really simplifies your decision making process.

So why are we discussing open-enrollment today, you ask? The truth is a lot of people don’t look over their current plan and consider changes at all. They instead opt for auto-enrolling (keeping the same benefits as last year).  And others spend very little time researching benefits.  The 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey found that 41 percent of employees spent 15 minutes or less researching their benefit options during the 2013 open enrollment season, and another 24 percent spent five minutes or less.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent more time looking at a restaurant menu!

Fifteen minutes is an unbelievably small amount of time to spend on something related to your health.  Aside from the fact that insurance can be crucial to making health care decisions and getting the care that we need, it also makes good financial sense to research your benefits, especially when you consider the average employee spends $4,565 a year in premiums on his/her employer-sponsored health plan.

Meanwhile, these same workers spend significantly more time researching consumer products, which in contrast to insurance, have little or no impact on our well being.  For example, consumers spend an average of two hours when shopping for a new television, four hours when shopping for computers, and five hours when looking at vacation options.

By auto-enrolling and spending so little time researching benefits, Aflac reports that most consumers do not understand what is covered in their policy and are unaware or do not understand changes that have been made to their policies.  Ultimately this leads a waste of $750 per customer a year, due to mistakes with their insurance benefits.

Fortunately it is easier than ever to get your questions answered so you can make an informed decision.  During open enrollment, you can talk to your employer about meeting with health care insurance agents or brokers, and you can also attend on-site seminars, participate in webinars and read the relevant education materials provided by your insurance company.

Researching Your Insurance Benefits

I think when you consider the financial implications, and the effects insurance coverage has on your healthcare decisions, you can agree that researching your benefits can be counted as time well spent!   Check out this page for more information on open enrollment.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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