We’ve had Thanksgiving, maybe you virtually shopped the sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and shared on Giving Tuesday. If you haven’t already done it, now’s the time to also sit down and choose your benefits during this year’s Open Enrollment.
Working for a leading insurance provider, family and friends usually ask me questions as they review their options. This year is no exception, with the ongoing pandemic underscoring the need for, and value of, employee benefits.
With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to share with you the same advice I’m giving to those in my circle.
Without insurance, medical emergencies often become financial emergencies
Today, employers are often workers’ best opportunity at getting the coverage they need to protect their finances, families, and futures. Here are the big three areas I recommend taking a close look at, made even more important by the pandemic:
- Health insurance: While it may seem obvious, it’s important to review your health insurance benefits to make sure you have the coverage you need. It’s possible your plan may have changed. Take the time to review your deductible and what’s covered.
- Disability insurance: Nobody needs disability insurance…until they need it. And, in fact, one in four workers will be disabled before they retire, according to the Social Security Administration. Today, those chances could be even higher. Determine what effect lost income would have on you and anyone else who relies on it. Disability insurance can protect your income, and you can receive a portion of your paycheck even if you are sick or injured and unable to work.
- Life insurance: Life Happens recommends people have 10 to 15 times their salary in life insurance coverage for funeral expenses, household bills and future financial obligations, like education or retirement, should a wage earner die. It is a tough thing to think about, but worth addressing for your loved ones when making your benefits choices this year.
Don’t forget about mental health
If you’re concerned about your mental health, you’re not alone. Our research at Unum found that 57% of U.S. workers are worried about their mental health due to COVID-19. There’s a wide variety of programs and places to look for benefits:
- Employee assistance programs: Check to see if assistance programs are available; they often provide free mental health counseling, even though that benefit isn’t always highlighted.
- Physical Health Rewards: Physical and mental health are intrinsically linked. Invest in your physical health for a much-needed mental health break and cash in on reimbursements for gym memberships or joining other athletic activities.
- The benefits of Paid Time Off: Americans are notoriously bad at taking vacation. That needs to change. Even if your vacation is a “staycation,” take that time to step away from work and focus on you. Closely review the PTO options available to you from your employer and don’t let your days go to waste.
Take advantage of telehealth options
Many of us have been concerned about visiting a healthcare professional during the pandemic. But fortunately, many healthcare providers offer virtual visits for non-critical issues.
With virtual visits you can safely get the care you need when you want it – preventing the potential long-term consequences of delaying necessary consultations.
If you are still on the fence about trying these options, remember virtual visits are often more affordable than in-person visits. They also can be more convenient. I personally appreciate being able to ask a quick question to my family’s physician over a video call, rather than the inconvenience of an afternoon in the doctor’s office.
Choosing your benefits is one of the most important financial decisions you make over the course of the year. As we head into 2021, I hope everyone finds the right balance of benefits to keep themselves and their families protected for whatever the future may bring.
If you’d like more info, this enrollment guide from Unum can walk through common benefit options you may encounter and how to decide what coverage is right for you.