Get the most from open enrollment as a new hire

Open enrollment time for health insurance and dependent care benefits can be a blessing or a curse.

Even though this time of year signals that decisions must be made which will impact you and your family for a whole year, now is a good time to ensure that you are maximizing what you already have in place, and that you didn’t leave any unused benefits behind as a year draws to a close.

If you are new hire, or are considering a job offer, it a wonderful opportunity to work with Human Resources when every possible question that has been asked about benefits is fresh in their minds.

First, make sure that your position is benefits-eligible.

Many employers provide current employees with an individualized accounting of the “total rewards” value of their compensation packages; this is extremely useful information for employees at any career stage to review. A prospective employer may share with you a dollar range for people in situations like your which can be extremely useful.

When considering a new offer, fresh information about the potential value of your benefits package can make or break that new contract deal. If you are already covered under another plan, or have a predictable life change in the works, a little math now saves heartache later.

It’s incredibly difficult, in most cases, to look ahead and know authoritatively every last dollar that you’ll need to spend for health or dependent care, but reviewing scenarios can be worthwhile. If you travel quite a bit, do a bit of digging into the depth and breadth of your health care provider network, in the unlikely event that you require urgent care while out of town. Is a child about to make the leap from full-time daycare to a part-time arrangement? If so, you may need fewer pre-tax dollars set aside for paying a new provider.

A review of your benefit package, both current and future, can be an eye-opening, yet very productive, experience.

Kimberley Sirk is a North Carolina-based writer and editor with government, higher education and big-brand healthcare public relations and marketing experience.

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