- For workers who are lucky enough to have health benefits, there are some best practices when utilizing these benefits to be sure you don’t leave any money on the table.
- Two workplace experts, Irene DeNigris and Linda Robertson, explain how workers can maximize their healthcare benefits, and suggest five important questions to ask yourself before the end of the year.
- “The worst thing anyone can do is let their flexible spending account money go to waste,” workplace financial expert Linda Robertson told Allwork.Space.
Landing a job with great benefits is definitely high on workers’ wish list, but actually taking advantage of these benefits is even better.
For workers who have health benefits, there are some best practices when utilizing these plans. The most important? Getting the maximum value out of your coverage each year.
Don’t let 2023 sneak up on you — make plans now to be sure to get the most use out of your plan before it resets on January 1.
To use up healthcare benefits before the end of the year, employees can:
- Get vision checked or get new glasses; check the plan’s annual/bi-annual allotment
- Check your flexible spending account balance, if you have such an account, and make plans for how to use it
- Schedule a preventative annual exam
- If you’ve met your deductible, think about any procedures you may want/need, and book them now before the deductible resets in January
- Review benefits paperwork to identify perks you may have forgotten about
- Ask five key questions about annual limits, carryovers, and deductibles
According to MoneyGeek, these three health benefits are the most overlooked:
The pandemic brought innovation to the world of work and the world of healthcare. Doctors’ appointments began to take place over the phone or over Zoom, and health insurance had to adapt to cover this. Usually, these appointments can be scheduled sooner and are more cost-effective than in-person doctor’s visits. Depending on the health insurance provider, telehealth appointments might be covered.
2. Free counseling
Well-being at work is beginning to become more prioritized by workers and employers alike; experiencing workplace stress and other emotional issues is common, and can take a huge toll on an employee’s work performance. This is no good, so some employers offer free workplace counseling. Taking advantage of this benefit can help maintain mental health and well-being. This is often found within a company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offering.
3. Substance abuse counseling
Although less talked about in the worksphere, substance abuse can greatly affect an employee’s overall well-being, which is why some employers offer substance abuse counseling through wellness programs. This kind of counseling is confidential and is offered in hopes of encouraging struggling employees to ask to receive help, which can put them on the path to getting long-term care and even recovery.
In a Q&A with Allwork.Space, Linda Robertson, workplace financial expert and Director of Planner Operations at Financial Finesse, explained how workers can maximize their healthcare benefits.
Allwork.Space: What tips do you have for employees who want to use up their health benefits before 2023 starts?
Linda Robertson: Especially for those who have a flexible spending account, it’s obviously use it or lose it. So they want to make sure that they’re looking at all the different opportunities they have to spend those funds, whether it’s to look at it from the point of view of sunscreen or a first aid kit or things you wouldn’t normally think of as doctor-prescribed. At a lot of stores, CVS or Walgreens or so forth, they make it really easy because they’ll show you as you’re walking through the aisles what is considered a qualified expense on your receipt, so just being aware of some of the not-so-common items that are considered eligible.
Allwork.Space: How can workers maximize their health benefits in general?
Linda Robertson: For many, annual enrollments are coming up soon. I think most people spend less time on their annual enrollment decisions than they do on their vacation; it’s fun to plan a vacation, but for many people, it’s not fun to pick their benefits.
There are so many opportunities and a lot of people say, “I’m just gonna pick what I had last year,” and don’t really realize that there could be new options available. There could be benefits that they’re missing out on. The first step is taking just a little extra time and really reviewing the menu and not just doing the default in picking what you already have.
Allwork.Space: For employees who do not have flexible spending accounts, how should they use up their other benefits before the new year?
Linda Robertson: Especially for those – even if you have a high deductible health plan – if there’s anything that you can kind of double up on before the end of the year, do that. If you’ve got a dentist appointment coming up, can they get that in before the beginning of the year? Just be aware of that December 31 deadline if you know that you need to get any type of medical treatment, or especially a dental procedure.
The worst thing anyone can do is let their flexible spending account money go to waste. The last tip I would say is to check with your employer and make sure there is a grace period for submitting receipts for the flex spending purchases.
Irene DeNigris, Chief People Officer at Conductor, told Allwork.Space that employees should also review all of their health benefit plans in order to understand annual limits, carryovers, and deductibles to ensure they are maximizing their coverage in any given year.
According to DeNigris, the questions employees should consider asking themselves are:
- Have I spent my FSA money? Normally, this money must be used by year’s end, or allows you to roll over up to $550 to the next year, or lets you have 2.5 months to use in the following year.
- Have I taken advantage of my HSA (health savings account) plan? If you have an HSA plan, money rolls over year-to-year, so there is no downside to putting away as much as possible. This needs to be done before December 31 in order to max out the year. For instance, you can’t roll over more than $3,650 for individual coverage or $7,300 for family coverage, plus an additional $1,000 if you’re 55 or over.
- Did I use my medical health plan effectively? Health plans typically have some sort of annual deductible which resets with the new calendar year. If you’ve already met your deductible, see if you can schedule appointments (doctor visits or other procedures) before the end of the year, so they’ll be covered.
- Did I use my vision plan effectively? Vision plans usually cover all or part of an annual eye exam, and a certain portion of costs go towards contact lenses or eyeglasses. If you haven’t had your annual eye exam or ordered new contacts or glasses, you should do so now.
- Did I use my dental plan effectively? Some dental plans set an annual limit on what is paid out in a given year. If you haven’t maxed this out yet, you should consider if there are any cleanings or other procedures you can schedule.