Holiday Shopping for Benefits? How to Get a Great End of Year Deal

5 Ways to Save Money on Health Benefits

Holiday Health. Depositphotos.com/luckybusiness

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and freebies in full swing, many holiday shoppers are trying to snatch up the best deals on consumer electronics, gifts, and more. But what may not be on everyone’s minds is that the end of the year is also a good time to get a great deal on employee benefits for the New Year. With the Affordable Care Act looming on the horizon for 2016, it’s time for individuals who don’t have adequate insurance to pick a plan to avoid the individual shared responsibility tax penalty that goes into effect.

Why it's Important to Get Health Insurance Now

What are the individual shared responsibility fees for 2016? If you do not have the minimum required health care under ACA rules, you can expect to be assessed a penalty of 2 percent of your household income or $325 per adult/$162.50 per child under 18 – or the higher of these. There is a cap of $975 per family. For 2016, these fees nearly double, so now is the time to secure employee benefits or health insurance under the marketplace. Here’s how to get the best deal on employee benefits.

#1 – Evaluate your employer’s health insurance plans

Open enrollment is generally happening around this time of year, therefore you can often get your best deals on insurance by enrolling under lower cost group benefit plans. Employers are required to offer at least three tier plans, giving you more choices in low cost benefits that also offer health savings account options.

One way to save on benefits is to sign up for a high deductible health care plan and then put as much pre-tax money away into the HSA for future medical expenses.

#2 – Check with your state benefit marketplace

You’ve got many choices when it comes to benefits, and most states are participating in marketplaces.

In fact, your employer may advise you that you can get a better bargain on health insurance by taking advantage of marketplace plans and using defined contributions to pay for premiums. You can often get government subsidies that pay a bulk of your premium, and the employer pays the rest.

#3 – Work with a qualified employee benefits broker

Benefits brokers are available to work with individuals as well as companies of all sizes to help them secure the best employee benefits at rock bottom prices. This is because they have access to a wider network of health and voluntary insurance plans that provide both savings and flexibility for members. Contact a benefits broker and start designing a benefits plan that fits your budget and health goals for 2016.

#4 – Talk with your healthcare provider

A very big component of saving money on employee benefits has to do with how and where you use them during the year. There can be large variances in pricing for certain medical tests, office visits, treatments, and prescriptions from one provider to another. Be a responsible health care consumer by negotiating a fair and customary rate with your health care providers in advance of any expensive health care procedures, and shop around for cheaper prices on durable medical equipment and prescription drugs.

#5 – Make use of public health offerings

Each year, there are opportunities to get free and low cost health care screenings to stay healthy. Drug stores often offer free flu shots, health care agencies provide free mammograms, retail centers promote weight loss and smoking cessation programs, and there are various other health focus areas that provide free screenings year round. Keep an eye on publications at your doctor’s office, and through local newspapers to learn about these events. Take advantage of them to avoid health problems that can cause insurance premiums to spike. 

One last note: You may also want to check around for health related services and special end-of-year discounts on gym memberships, fitness classes, healthy eating resources, exercise equipment, and more.