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Your annual enrollment to-do list—made easy

Individuals 08.03.2021 5 MIN READ

The decisions you make during annual enrollment can impact your finances throughout the year—and generally you can’t change them once you’ve locked in your selections. Set yourself up for success by making sure you fully understand your options. 

Step 1: Understand what your company offers

The first step to making informed decisions is to understand what’s available to you.  

Many companies host webinars or in-person sessions reviewing the benefits offered, which is a great place to start if you’re not sure what’s available. You should also have access to documentation of your benefits. Connect with your company’s benefits specialists if you have trouble finding the information you need. 

If you have access to Ayco through your employer, work with an Ayco coach to review your options. They’re trained on the specific benefits of each company Ayco works with and can help you see the whole picture. 

Step 2: Look at where you are now and where you hope to be a year from now.

When annual enrollment emails start popping up in your inbox, you may be tempted to elect the same benefit options you currently have and call it a day. If this sounds familiar, fight the urge! 

Think about it this way: Your paycheck is only part of what you’re given in exchange for your time and work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits generally make up about 30% of an employees’ total compensation—meaning if you’re not maximizing your benefits, you’re missing out!1

Your benefits are a critical part of your compensation package, so make sure you’re actually benefiting from them. Annual enrollment elections aren’t just another action item for your to-do list. You should think critically about how opting in—or out of—certain benefits could impact you not just next year, but five, 10 or 20 years down the road as well. 

Take stock of what your life currently looks like. 

  • Are you single, married, in a relationship?
  • Do you have children or others to care for? 
  • Are you generally healthy? Do you have any medical conditions or upcoming procedures?
  • Have your current elections worked well for you?

Do you expect any of your answers to change in the next year? If so, be sure to consider which benefits will most likely be impacted. 

For example, if you have a planned surgery for next year, you’ll want to account for that as you make your elections. To prepare for the associated costs, you may choose to enroll in a health insurance plan with a lower deductible. Alternatively, you may decide to choose a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and contribute a higher amount to a health savings account (HSA) to shoulder the cost. 

How you plan for future costs depends on your current financial circumstances and how much you can afford. Be sure to look at your finances as a whole as you map out your decisions. 

Step 3: Compare your options

Common benefits you can enroll in during annual enrollment include: 

Health insurance. Your company may offer a few different options, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. 

  • High deductible health plan (HDHP): To counter the higher deductible associated with this type of plan, you’ll pay lower monthly premiums. You may have the option to contribute to an HSA to help you cover costs now and in the future. Check out Ayco’s guide to HSAs for more information
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan: Under this plan, you have access to any providers covered under your plan—preferred providers—but can choose doctors out of network. PPOs offer lower copays and deductibles in exchange for higher monthly premiums
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan: HMOs typically offer low or no deductibles, low co-pays and low monthly premiums, while all care is coordinated via referrals from your primary care doctor

You may be eligible to contribute to a flexible spending account (FSA) depending on the plans your company offers and the health insurance option in which you enroll. Learn more about how you can use an FSA in Ayco’s guide to FSAs.

Vision and dental insurance. There are generally one to two options for vision and dental insurance. Be sure to look into what’s covered and make sure it matches what you need. 

Long-term disability and life insurance. Enrolling in these benefits can be optional (sometimes a company will pay for a certain amount of coverage with or without the option for employees to buy up an additional amount of their choosing) and often depends on your personal feelings around risk. Long-term disability insurance provides financial protections in case you become unable to work due to a health problem. Find out what you need to know about life insurance in this article.

Remember: Generally, you can only make changes to your benefits elections outside your annual enrollment window for qualifying life events like getting married or divorced, or having a child. For most benefit elections, you’re locked in for the year after the annual enrollment window closes. 

It’s best to go into annual enrollment with a strong understanding of your needs and a solid plan. If your company provides access to Ayco, work with a coach to plan ahead. 

If you have Ayco as a company benefit, register or log in to learn more about this and other financial wellness topics.