When it comes to navigating the world of employee benefits, there’s a lot to take in, especially if you’re a first timer. Among the suite of benefits you’re likely to be offered, voluntary benefits are often misunderstood. What are Some Examples of Voluntary Benefits? Voluntary benefits include a variety of options, all designed to...
Gearing Up for a Successful Open Enrollment
Success requires two things: preparation and opportunity. Right now is your opportunity to prepare your employees for financial success. With pre-tax benefits plans from Advantage Administrators, you and your employees have an opportunity to save money, both now and in the future.
During open enrollment, your employees can choose to enroll in a Health Savings Account (HSA) if they haven’t done so already. Here are a few questions they may want to ask in advance:
What type of health plan do I need to qualify?
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can only be used with a qualified High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). The IRS sets annual deductible limits for HDHPs each year.
How much should I contribute?
Since all the funds in an HSA can be carried over from one year to the next, they are powerful tools to help participants save for retirement and pay for their family’s emergency medical expenses. As a result, it makes sense to contribute as much as possible (within the IRS contribution limits, of course). Other things to consider are:
- Catch-up contributions. Catch-up contributions allow employees to contribute an extra $1,000.00 per year to their HSAs once they turn 55.
- Employer contributions. If you offer to contribute to or match a certain amount of your employees’ contributions to their HSAs, it acts as an extra incentive for them to enroll.
Can I enroll in an HSA and an FSA?
Yes! Participants can save even more on eligible expenses by participating in an HSA as well as certain types of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Participants in an HSA can also contribute to:
- Limited FSAs, which help save on qualifying dental, vision, and preventive care expenses; and
- Dependent Care FSAs, which allow participants to set aside pre-tax dollars for eligible daycare expenses for children under the age of 13 as well as for care of a disabled spouse or adult dependent whom they claim on their tax return.
It’s important to note, however, that plan participants are not eligible to participate in both an HSA and a Medical FSA, which covers eligible medical, dental, vision, and preventive care expenses.
What is the investment threshold?
HSA funds can be invested, allowing participants to build up a balance at a much higher rate than would be possible with an HSA’s cash account, which is one of the reasons why an HSA rivals a traditional IRA or 401(k) plan when it comes to saving for retirement. But before participants can invest their HSA funds, they must reach an investment threshold. It’s important to know what that threshold is so that participants will know how soon they can invest.
How do I know what expenses are eligible?
The IRS determines which expenses are eligible under HSAs and FSAs.
Open enrollment season will be here before you know it, but all it takes is a few simple steps to boost plan participation and put you and your employees on the road to savings:
Start strong by scheduling a time to meet with your employees so you can review the plans available for them to consider. If there are any changes to your offerings, such as new plans or changes to contribution limits, make sure your employees are aware of them. Encourage your employees to review their current plan elections and bring a list of any questions they might have to your meeting.
LEARN MORE TO GET THE MOST OUT OF PRE-TAX BENEFITS
Staying educated throughout the plan year can help avoid confusion during open enrollment season, and our website is the perfect place to start. You’ll find information on HSAs, FSAs, and more that will help you maximize plan participation. Our blog offers updates throughout the year about employee benefits and how to make them work for you.
Did you know that Advantage Administrators offers a mobile app? Designed for on-the-go access to all your Advantage Administrators accounts, our app lets you stay up to speed on your healthcare account information. It’s easy to check balances and expense eligibility, make payments, and manage your HSA investments, and it’s available for Apple and Android devices.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Good communication is essential. After all, if your employees don’t know which plans you offer and the differences between them, how will they know which plan may be right for them?
That’s why it’s important to develop a unique communication strategy that meets the needs of you and your employees. Key things to consider when developing this plan include how your employees have responded to past communications. Do your employees respond best to emails? Text messages? Phone calls? Some may prefer face-to-face meetings. Each employee has different needs, and it’s important to keep those in mind.
FIND YOUR CHAMPIONS
Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to build confidence in any product or service, and the same is true with benefits plans. Talk to your employees who regularly participate in your employee benefits and ask a couple of them to share their stories during open enrollment. Employees who may be apprehensive about participation might be more comfortable approaching other employees they know and trust. These employees can offer valuable insights into employee benefits since they understand the participant experience.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Ninety-two percent of employees keep the same elections they had the previous year, regardless of any changes that may have taken place in their lives. If your employees are part of that majority, they may be missing out on pre-tax savings. Providing them with informative materials like handouts and links to blog posts that they can review at their convenience can help them see if that is the right choice for them.
The benefits experience is often complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Educating employees about the advantages of participation in your benefits programs, coupled with early planning and tailored communications concerning open enrollment, will help ensure that your message resonates with employees.