By avoiding certain open enrollment blunders, online health insurance provider eHealthInsurance says consumers may prevent themselves from going uninsured or getting stuck with a health insurance plan that is not the best match for their needs.
Open enrollment is the time when businesses ask employees to make health insurance choices and other benefit selections for the coming year. Open enrollment can occur at different times for different businesses, but many are offering open enrollment for the 2012 benefit year between October and December 2011.
Missing an 'active' open enrollment
During most enrollment periods you're able to do nothing and simply stick with your current plan. However, you may have what's called an "active" (or "hard") enrollment. These typically occur when your employer has made substantial changes to their benefit offerings. During an active enrollment you're required to make a health insurance choice or else lose your coverage entirely.
Not catching benefit changes
Employers really are facing increased health insurance costs. One of the first ways they often try to compensate is by downsizing the benefits and coverage levels for the health plans they offer to employees.
Missing decreases in employer contributions for dependent coverage
Another way employers may try to address increased costs is by dropping the amount they contribute toward the coverage of dependents. Unlike contributions for employee coverage (which are generally required to be at least 50 percent of the employee's total monthly premium), there are usually no minimum contribution requirements when it comes to dependents.
Overlooking individually-purchased options
If you find that it's no longer affordable to insure yourself or your dependents on an employer-based plan, or that the coverage offered no longer meets your needs, make sure to check your options in the individual and family market.