3 tips to get the most of workplace benefits during open enrollment season


— For most Americans, the end of the year marks benefit open enrollment season. While this could be viewed as an important chance to thoughtfully review coverage, it’s often a time that many employees dread, and in turn, end up avoiding.

More than 170 million Americans receive coverage through the workplace, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Today, these employees face complicated decisions and have more choices than ever before,” says Audrey Im, assistant vice president, Health & Welfare at Lincoln Financial Group. “It goes beyond health insurance, and we find there are many benefits employees aren’t even aware they have available.”

Employees, especially those of the younger generations, are typically concerned with short-term issues – debt and paying bills top the list of financial concerns for Millennials and Gen-Xers, according to the 2015 Special Report: Measuring Optimism, Outlook and Direction (M.O.O.D.) of America on Employee Benefits, conducted by the Lincoln Financial Group.

“Longer-term concerns associated with some non-medical insurance offerings can be uncertain and less tangible, and therefore garner less attention. For example, less than a fourth of Millennials and Gen-Xers have concerns about loss of income due to disability,” says Im, citing study results.

Financial anxieties shift when looking at Baby Boomers – healthcare expenses elicit the most stress.

Open enrollment is the time to assess your biggest concerns and discover how insurance options can help you secure your financial future and alleviate some of these fears.

It doesn’t have to be difficult – here are three quick tips to consider:

• Don’t overlook important non-medical benefits such as dental care, vision coverage, disability insurance, life insurance, accident and critical illness insurance. Health insurance is crucial, but these can also play a big role in protecting your income and wealth in times of need. Even if your employer doesn’t contribute toward the premium cost, you may be able to conveniently pay premiums via pre-tax payroll deduction.

• Think about your biggest risks today and make protecting them a priority. Every year you should consider your life changes and re-evaluate your needs. Whether you’re about to walk down the aisle, expand your family, or buy a home, protecting your assets with the right insurance coverage is key.

• Educate yourself. Many employers and benefit providers offer web tools to help you better understand benefits. For example, LFG.com features a wide array of tools and resources to help you make smarter decisions about protecting your future, based on your lifestyle.

It’s the important things in life that are worth protecting. Insurance benefits offered through your workplace play a role in planning for that protection. Be sure to make informed choices this open enrollment season.

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) zimmytws – Fotolia.com