'Tis the season for open enrollment - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

FOX Medical Team

'Tis the season for open enrollment

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It's the season of open enrollment for many employers.  With the cost of healthcare, it's one deadline you want to miss.

Navigating your healthcare benefits can sometimes be tricky, so the FOX Medical Team's Beth Galvin is here to help you make the best decision for you and your family.
Lot of people choose to keep the same health coverage they had last year without really looking at the insurance plans in front of them.  

Even with the Affordable Care Act adding another option, many human resource pros believe people will not do their homework and that could be a mistake

Algernon Billups is like a lot folks this time of year. He's been working hard for two decades. Still, open enrollment isn't feeling any easier.

"It's not something you look forward to. You wish you could have something that kind of covered your needs. You wished the price was a little more stable and the services would either stay the same or continue to be expanded year after year," said Billups.

But Billups is a family man with a wife and five children, so carefully going over his health benefits is a priority

"Most of my children have my wife's vision, so they all need glasses," Billups said. "I'm one of the few people in the house who does not wear glasses, so vision is always going to be a top priority."

His human resources manager at Truebridge Resources, Ellen Stortz, says employees must do their homework when choosing a plan.  

For instance, will your doctor still accept your insurance?

"Go online and check the provider directory to see if your doctors are on there," said Stortz.

Some employers give you options.  You can use a PPO plan, which gives you a larger network of doctors to choose from, but it is more expensive. You may also be able to go with an HMO plan, which is less expensive, but has fewer in network doctors.

Stortz says don't forget to explore the flexible spending account. It's a tax break allows you set aside part of your paycheck -- pre-tax dollars -- to pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance like co-pays and prescriptions.

"If it adds up to a sizable amount, then a flexible spending account would be a good thing to do," Stortz said. "You just don't want to put more into the FSA then you know for sure that you will use."

Because some employers say if you don't use it, you may lose it.  So make sure to double check.

Billups always takes that advice when it comes to open enrollment season.

It is important to check with your HR department on the flexible spending account. This year, for the first time, companies have been given the option to allow unused dollars to roll over into a portion the following tax year, but only up to $500.

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