Understanding Plan Trends this Enrollment Season

Somewhere between the occasional days of summer fun and working through the daily grind, year-end has once again come upon us. For many of us, it means we will be bombarded with information regarding benefit options. While the specific options provided may vary, there are several key trends that are occurring this enrollment season.

Key Trends During Enrollment Season

  1. Deductibles are rising:  The basic co-pay plans that used to be prevalent are quickly disappearing and being replaced with higher and higher deductibles. When faced with a deductible plan, it is important to have a clear understanding of the pre-tax benefit accounts that may be offered. These may include Medical Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs). Each provide a unique set of benefits. Compare an FSA, HSA and HRA.
  2. Health Savings Accounts are growing rapidly: HSAs are a unique tool to save for medical expenses today and in the future. An HSA is combined with a qualified high deductible health plan. HSA funds are owned by the participant and the participant keeps the funds even if employment changes. However, if you are transitioning from another plan to an HSA qualified plan, there may be a learning curve on how to utilize an HSA.
  3. Medical FSAs now can rollover: Based on Benefit Resource’s estimates and other early industry estimates, 50-70% of employers will be offering a Medical FSA with rollover when their plans renew this coming year. The Medical FSA rollover allows up to $500 of unused funds to roll from one plan year to the next. This allows for additional cushion in estimating an FSA election. Additionally, individuals, that did not participate in a Medical FSA because they were unsure of what (if any) expenses they might have, can elect up to $500 without any fear that funds will be lost.
  4. Multiple options / layered benefits: In recent years, we have seen an increase in the use of layered benefit account options. This occurs when an individual has access to multiple account options to pay for medical expenses. When multiple accounts are offered, it is important to pay close attention to which expenses will be paid from which account types and when benefits become available.