Maximizing Your Employee Benefits

If you’re among the 49 percent of Americans who receive employer-sponsored health care coverage, you may have already received information on your company’s open enrollment. In previous years, you might not have taken much time to review your company’s options. But the current pandemic underscores the importance of securing the best possible coverage and value.

Even before COVID hit, workers’ average single deductible rose to $1,644 in 2020 – almost double from 10 years ago. And typical annual family premiums under employer-sponsored plans rose 4 percent from 2019 to $21,342. During the pandemic, many of us have postponed tests, routine care, and procedures. If much of that deferred care is scheduled in 2021, PwC’s Health Research Institute projects medical costs could rise as much as 10 percent above pre-coronavirus levels.1

Two ways to fund some of these rising costs are a pretax Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

To set up an HSA, individuals must have a qualifying high-deductible health plan (HDHP). They control their HSA and may roll contributions over from year to year. To qualify in 2021, an HDHP must have a minimum deductible of $1,400 for individuals or $2,800 for families. The maximum limits for out-of-pocket costs are $7,000 for an individual or $14,000 for a family.

In 2021, workers with an HDHP can contribute $3,600 for themselves (plus $1,000 if they’re 55 or older) or $7,200 for their family. Once enrolled in Medicare Part A or B, individuals can no longer contribute pretax dollars to an HSA.

FSAs are owned by the employer; this means you may forfeit unused contributions if you leave your job. At year’s end, unused funds do not automatically carry over. Depending on the policy, an employee forfeits them, has a few-month grace period to use them, or is allowed to carry up to $550 (for 2021) into the next year. The maximum amount an employee can contribute in 2021 is $2,750.  Medicare recipientsmay contribute to their employers’ FSA.

Need help choosing the best health care options for your family? I’m happy to review these crucial elements of your financial plan with you.

1 https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/02/5-things-to-watch-out-for-during-open-enrollment-amid-coronavirus.html