The end of the year came and went, and with it, open enrollment for my employee benefits at work. I made a few changes this year that I thought would work out a little better for me financially.
First off, what I didn’t change: I stuck with the Premium health insurance plan at work. I switched from the Basic Plan (which was free) to the Premium Plan at the end of 2013. You can read all about that decision here. The Premium Plan only costs me $7 per week ($364/year pre-tax, which is ridiculously awesome!). The deductible did go up this year, from $250/year to $300. Oh, the horror! Honestly, I’m extremely lucky to have such awesome health insurance. And even though it’s inexpensive, the coverage is great. I’ve used the heck out of my insurance the last couple of years, and I’m very happy to have it!
I decided to add dental insurance this year. The dentist I’d gone to my entire life passed away a couple of years ago, and I wasn’t real excited about finding a new dentist. I finally found one through a friend’s referral. The first visit? $400. Yikes! The semi-annual cleanings cost about $200 each, plus there’s all the extra x-rays, etc. they do once a year. The dental insurance costs me $5.54/week ($288/year pre-tax), and covers 2 cleanings, plus x-rays, and discounts on all the other stuff. Teeth are super important to me, so that’s money well spent!
At the last-minute, I decided to drop my Aflac policies. I had an Accident and Cancer policy with Aflac through work. While I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of the policy after my ankle injury (and bug in my ear), I kinda felt like keeping these policies wasn’t worth the cost. Sure, they pay out if I get injured, or get cancer. But I have great health insurance, and excellent short/long-term disability insurance through work. Adding Aflac seemed a little bit like gambling: Throwing money out and hoping to hit a payout. Or, actually, throwing money out and hoping NOT to get a payout. I was spending $10.68/week combined on those policies ($555/year, pre-tax). That’s a lot of money!
But I didn’t want to just add that weekly premium back into my check. So, instead, I added it to my flexible spending account. I had been contributing $300/year (pre-tax) into my flexible spending account. I initially wanted to keep that amount small, since in a flexible spending account you have to use it by the end of the year, or else you lose it. But, I’ve been spending every penny every year. Plus, our plan now allows us to carry-forward up to $500/year. So, I increased it to $600/year (pre-tax), or $11.54/week. What I’m paying this year for dental and flexible spending comes really close to what I was paying last year for Aflac and flexible spending, so there isn’t much difference on my paycheck. If this year is anything like the last two, that money will be used up in medical co-pays/deductibles/prescriptions. But I also really need to go to the eye doctor, and get new glasses.
So, those are some of the adjustments I made this year. All in all, I think it’s a good use of my money. And, since everything is pre-tax, I’m saving money on taxes as well. Hey, it’s not much, but every little bit helps. The only other change I’m planning to make would be to my 401(k) plan. I’m currently not contributing (I still get my employer’s contribution though). We typically get some type of pay increase in the first few weeks of the new year. My plan is to throw that increase directly into the 401(k). Since I’m not used to that money, I’ll never miss it. I’m not expecting it to be much, but every little bit counts!
Do you agree with my plan? Did you make any changes to your employee benefits for 2015?
– Cindy W.