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November 23, 2021

Better together—open enrollment power tips for spouses

Open enrollment is a period of time—usually from around November 1st to January 15th—when US employers enroll in the benefits offered at their work for the following plan year. 

As US employers have added more benefits this year in an effort to stay competitive in recruiting and retaining employees, it's worth putting in the time and effort to compare your and your spouse's benefits when evaluating which to signup for.

So, we thought we’d bring offer some power tips to the Thanksgiving dinner this year.

No stuffing, just the most important things

  • Compare which plan gives you the best coverage for your monthly premium. By doing so, does one of your plans stand out? It really comes down to which plan gives the both of you the most bang for your buck, or, premium in this case. If your plans are roughly the same, it might make more sense to just keep your own employer-sponsored plan rather than enrolling in your spouse’s.
  • Create a spreadsheet. Don't underestimate the power of comparing all the options, costs and benefits to your expected life events and needs for the next calendar year in a spreadsheet or list. For example, if you're expecting a baby, what associated costs can you anticipate and what benefits offered can help you pay for those costs?
  • Don't forget about out-of-pocket costs. Before an insurance provider covers costs, what are the upfront fees, deductible amounts and co-pays that you would have to cover out-of-pocket? Some insurance plans will charge you a spousal fee to add your spouse to the account, so beware. 
  • Prioritize tax-advantaged accounts and don't forget employer contributions. Participate in tax-advantaged accounts like a Health Savings Account if you qualify or a dependent care FSA if your employer offers one. And if one of your employers contributes into one or more of these accounts, that may help you both better devise a strategy for 2022. If you need a refresher on FSAs vs. HSAs, here's our related lesson on the topic:
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