10 Tips for Navigating Open Enrollment

Beginning each fall, many employers kick off their open enrollment period. This is a time when employees have the opportunity to enroll in — or make changes to — their health insurance benefits. As the open enrollment season approaches, now is an excellent time to review your current health insurance coverage, determine what benefits or funds you have left to use before the close of the coverage year, and consider your insurance needs for the upcoming year.

Basic Information Required

If you are a new benefits enrollee or if you are making changes to your medical coverage, you will need some basic information for the family members you wish to cover. You will need to have Social Security numbers and birthdates of the family members you will be covering. Additionally, if any of your family members are covered by secondary health insurance plans, you will need to have those policy numbers and the name, birth date, and Social Security number of the policyholder.

Current Providers and Medications

To accurately compare your current coverage with the insurance plans you have to choose from during open enrollment, make a list of the names of your current healthcare providers. Include doctors, specialists and hospitals or healthcare systems for each family member to see if they are included in your employer’s benefit plan network. Also, gather a list of regularly-taken medications for each family member – the name and dosage – as well as the name and address of your preferred pharmacy. Knowing your co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs will be key to determining the correct plan for you and your family.

Summary of Benefits

Review the benefit plans’ summary of benefits and comparison tables if more than one option is available to you. Be sure to compare the procedures and medications that are covered, and not covered, by each plan. Also consider each plan’s level of coverage for preventive care, such as annual physicals, mammograms and well-child visits.

Cost Comparison

Estimate how much you can afford to spend on healthcare in a year and compare the premiums, deductibles and co-pays. Then, total what you spent in the previous year on doctor visits and medicine. Remember to list annual or seasonal doctor visits and treatments for chronic conditions like asthma, as well as behavioral health costs for therapy or counseling. If your records are inaccurate, use an online healthcare cost calculator to help you estimate your spending.

Also consider co-insurance costs (for health insurance plans that have separate prescription drug plans), and your annual spending using your medical savings account (MSA) or flexible spending account (FSA). To predict your MSA/FSA spending for the coming year, total your costs for over-the-counter medications, chiropractic care, vitamins/supplements, and alternative medicines and treatments. If your unused MSA/FSA funds don’t roll over, be sure to use them before your spending deadline.

Could you use some assistance making decisions about the costs of healthcare during open enrollment season and how it can impact your other financial needs? An excellent resource is an experienced accountant like those at Donohoo Accounting Services. Schedule a free consultation at 513-528-3982 or email us today.

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The Best Time To Buy Household Appliances

Major household appliances are expensive, but knowing the right time to buy them can help save you and your family money. You might think Black Friday is the best time to buy nearly everything, and there are great deals available, but to get the best deals of the year, September is the right time.

During September, many stores are looking to clear out existing inventory to prep for the holiday shoppers, and manufacturers often release new models in late fall. This combination leads to the best prices of the year for most washers, dryers, dishwashers, ovens/ranges and refrigerators.

Energy Star Rebates

There is also plenty of rebate money remaining for Energy Star certified appliances. Before you buy, visit the site and type in your zip code to find rebates and special offers near you. Products that earn the Energy Star label meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the U.S. Environmental Agency, which helps save energy while protecting the environment. These products also increase your home’s resale value, so it’s a win all around.

Price Matching

Once you’ve done your research about product models and determined your additional rebate savings, take it one step further with price matching. Every retailer has different rules, but one we like best is Best Buy. Here’s why. Best Buy matches prices with H.H. Gregg, Walmart, Lowe’s and even Amazon.com among others. Once you make sure the product is identical in brand, color and model number, present the deal in-store or online and they will match the price. After your purchase, keep an eye on the item. If Best Buy lowers the in-store or online price during the return and exchange period, they will match that lower price again, upon request.

Sell Your Old Item

Not only are the prices for your new item lower, but you will also be able to sell your old appliances easy and faster on sites like NextDoor. Many people like selling on NextDoor versus a site like Craigslist because you can sell to only people in your neighborhood, and you can check their post history to get to know someone a bit before inviting them into your home to pick up their purchase. If you’re not looking to resell your appliances, consider a donation. The Salvation Army will come to your home to pick up a donation and give you a receipt for tax purposes.

The professionals at Donohoo Accounting Service are here to help you manage your finances. We have been helping people like you to wisely manage their finances for more than 20 years. For a free consultation, call us today at 513-528-3982. Check us out on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for our latest updates!

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