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Open enrollment for health benefits begins for 2021: Here's what you should look for

Posted at 7:47 AM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-09 09:12:35-05

It's that time of year again – open enrollment, where employees sign up for medical, dental, and vision benefits.

But this year, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cost of healthcare may force workers to take a closer look at their options.

"Even before the COVID pandemic, Americans were being asked to pay more out of pocket for all of their healthcare services," Dr. Mark Fenrick, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design said.

Fendrick says you should be intentional and look for a health plan that best meets your clinical and financial needs during open enrollment.

"Some things in healthcare are predictable and others aren't, and if you have been diagnosed with a chronic disease like diabetes that's going to require you to pay a lot of money out of pocket… you may think about a more generous plan but a lower deductible. Some old strew if you're a young person and thinking about starting a family," he said.

"Some employees may be worried about how their benefits are impacted if they're furloughed, laid off, or if potentially if their spouse if laid off from their job," Society for Human Resources Management HR Knowledge Advisor Elissa Jessup said.

Pandemic or not, Jessup said it may be a good time to consider these types of insurance some employees provide.

  • Critical illness insurance
  • Hospital indemnity insurance
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Supplemental life insurance

Also, experts say if you're willing to make the investment, a health savings account could be a good option.

Jessup adds that employees may also be looking for flexibility from employers outside of typical benefits.

"Compressed work weeks, ability to work from home, especially those with kids who are remote learning right now," she said. "Unfortunately people are being impacted by COVID-19 themselves or their families and there's a lot of stress going into that of, ya know, will I have enough paid time off?"