A lackadaisical approach to benefits enrollment could leave you short on coverage or end up costing you more than it should. Gathering information and making time to thoroughly consider your options and needs can help ensure you’re getting the best value from your employer’s benefits package. Approach this year’s open enrollment with these tips in mind.
Get the Most Out of Your Benefits Enrollment
(Family Features) A lackadaisical approach to benefits enrollment could leave you short on coverage or end up costing you more than it should. Gathering information and making time to thoroughly consider your options and needs can help ensure you’re getting the best value from your employer’s benefits package.
Approach this year’s open enrollment with these tips from the experts at Colonial Life in mind:
Take life changes into account. A major event like a birth or marriage makes you eligible to adjust your benefits between enrollment periods, but there are many other factors that may affect your coverage needs. For example, you may not bother with dental coverage for a newborn, but once that child has some teeth and is mobile, it’s a good idea to add coverage in the event a fall damages a tooth.
Be conscious of changes. It’s quite common to allow your benefits to renew automatically when the enrollment period rolls around. This can create problems as plans and coverages often change from year to year. Deductible amounts, office visit co-pays and even categories of coverage can shift from one year to the next. Even if there aren’t changes to the coverage, there may be a new pricing structure or additions to coverage that could benefit you.
Dedicate some time. When signing up for benefits for the first time, most people spend at least a little time reviewing each plan option. If you have your premiums deducted from your paycheck automatically, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to your benefits, especially if you’re relatively healthy. Open enrollment is the time to give them more than a passing thought.
A survey by Colonial Life showed 69% of employees spend less than 60 minutes learning about their benefits choices, but that limited time commitment can ultimately affect overall job satisfaction.
“This can be a huge problem for both employees and their employers, because a lack of engagement with the benefits program leads to lower morale and higher turnover,” said Steven Johnson, vice president of enrollment solutions at Colonial Life.
Instead of a cursory flip through the materials, dedicate some time to thoroughly review all the information and make notes about areas you have questions.
Discuss your options. Benefits can be complicated, and there are a lot of terms and jargon in the insurance world that can make it hard to understand exactly what your benefits will cover. That’s why it’s a good idea to sit down with a knowledgeable benefits counselor to discuss your family and personal financial situation.
Technology may be king for many aspects of life, but the survey found just 11% of employees name the internet as the place they turn to learn about benefits during enrollment each year. However, 76% of employees turn to humans including HR professionals, coworkers, family and friends.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for benefits, but a one-on-one counseling session can help simplify the entire benefits process. A private consultation may help you understand how each benefit election impacts your paycheck, as well as simplifying complex benefit concepts, answering your questions and walking you through the enrollment process.
Learn more about how to maximize your benefits at ColonialLife.com.
To gain a better understanding of your benefits, these definitions from HealthCare.gov can help you identify and recognize some common terms.
Benefits: The health care items or services covered under a health insurance plan.
Coinsurance: The percentage of costs of a covered health care service you pay (20%, for example) after you’ve paid your deductible.
Copayment: A fixed amount ($20, for example) you pay for a covered health care service after you’ve paid your deductible.
Deductible: The amount you pay for covered health care services before your insurance plan starts to pay.
Flexible Spending Account: An arrangement through your employer that lets you pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars.
Health Savings Account: A type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses.
Network: The facilities, providers and suppliers your health insurer or plan has contracted with to provide health care services.
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(BPT) - Medical professionals are in greater demand than ever before, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), by the year 2025, the United States could need as many as 90,000 more physicians than it actually has, and the demand for nurses and other health professionals could be even higher.
Given those numbers, the time couldn’t be better to consider a career in health care.
Historically, the path toward becoming a doctor or nurse has been a rigid one — and, as a student, you were either on that path or you weren’t. But today, new options are opening up, as even the best-established medical schools seek to expand their offerings and encourage a greater number of medically inclined students to enter the field professionally.
New options for health care-inclined students of all ages
Just take what Harvard Medical School is doing. This spring, the school — whose typical acceptance rate is under 4 percent — announced its first-ever online certificate program that’s open to all aspiring clinicians as well as the general public.
The program, called HMX Fundamentals, is designed to give students a taste of what a top-tier medical education entails, while building crucial expertise in four foundational subject areas: Immunology, Physiology, Biochemistry and Genetics. These highly immersive courses emphasize real-world applications and experiences, integrating real-life case studies and offering a first-hand look into real medical facilities — a significant step beyond the traditional, passive learning and slide-show presentations that are common in some other online programs. The idea is to provide foundational knowledge in a meaningful context, making the information as relevant as possible.
By offering wider access than ever before to some of the school’s top physician-scientists, Harvard Medical School is hoping to change the game, and encourage more health-curious students and professionals to explore medicine seriously.
Whether you’re a highly motivated high school student, a recent college graduate or a young professional considering a transition into health care, this summer’s HMX Fundamentals program could be the first step in your path toward a career in medicine.
Expanding access without sacrificing quality
While HMX Fundamentals courses are open to students at virtually any phase of their academic or professional career, they do require a basic understanding of chemistry, biology and physics. To ensure that students are prepared to succeed, prospective students are asked to submit a brief application, both to confirm they’ve completed the recommended prerequisites and to give HMX a sense of what they hope to achieve through the program.
Applications for the program will be accepted through May 30, and the inaugural summer installment program will begin June 20. Tuition for HMX Fundamentals courses is tiered, beginning at $800 for a single course or $1000 for a two-course bundle. Partial scholarships are available on a limited basis.
What if rather than a hobby being your escape, it was what you did for a career? Here's how to make that dream a reality.
(BPT) - A beloved hobby can feel like a mini vacation from everyday life. Whether it's gardening for relaxation, photography as a creative outlet or computer coding to exercise the brain, hobbies serve as an escape from stress and boredom.
What if rather than a hobby being your escape, it was what you did for a career?
"When you do what you love, it doesn't feel like work. However, people are intimidated by the idea of transitioning a hobby into this type of dream," says Jim Salmon, vice president of business services at Navy Federal Credit Union. "Becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn't have to be difficult with the right drive and passion."
Navy Federal Business Services has helped thousands of people turn their dreams of owning a small business into reality by providing expert guidance and financial support through Business Services products. Here are some of Salmon's expert tips based on best practices he's observed through his close relationship with entrepreneurial clients:
1. Take your time.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn't mean you have to drop everything and devote all your time to starting a business. In fact, research shows the opposite: People who keep their day jobs while starting companies are a third less likely to fail than those who abandon their full time jobs. Instead, they're tinkering, researching and cautiously testing things out to see if their idea is a viable business venture and if there is a market for their product or service.
2. Set a timeline.
Is there a season where it would make sense to test out your business venture? Or perhaps there's a transitional time in your life where you'll be looking to open a new chapter. For example, transitioning your hobby into a viable business venture a great option for active duty military personnel and veterans because they naturally begin to think about what their second career will be after retiring or leaving the Armed Forces.
3. Decide on time commitment.
Decide how much time you are willing to dedicate to your new venture in the beginning. Being an entrepreneur means being your own boss which affords you unprecedented flexibility, but the effort you put in directly effects what you get out. Keep in mind, entrepreneurship isn't just for full-time professionals. Turning a hobby into a career is a great option for military and stay-at-home parents who require flexibility in regards to working hours and location, but they may have more open time to dedicate to the transition.
4. Create a business plan.
Transitioning a hobby into a profession is a lot of fun, but it's also serious business if you want to be successful. That means creating a business plan that includes goals and plans for attaining them. This will serve as the foundation for how you strategize and build a successful business today. Plus, when it comes time to finance your budding business, a solid business plan will give you a leg up and direction for the future.
5. Find financial backing.
Depending on what type of business you want to pursue, you may need some additional funding beyond what you can afford. Establishing a relationship with a financial institution like Navy Federal Credit Union will help you learn more about small business loans and lending products that will help your small business grow. Bring your passion and your business plan - potential investors and financial institutions alike will want to see both before they make a decision.
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