FINANCIAL BRIEFS from COMERICA BANK . . . Be Prepared This Benefits Enrollment Season
This October, employees across the country are preparing to hold an open enrollment
period. Employees are invited to register for different programs, modify their current
benefits and learn about new programs the company is offering. Some people will be
reapplying for benefits and some will enroll for the first time.
Benefits packages vary from one company to the next. Most are familiar with health benefits,
which can help employees cover the cost of medical insurance, 401(k) savings plans and life
insurance programs. Some companies offer additional benefits like a pension, life insurance
and family and medical leave.
Suzanne Spisak, Benefits Director at Comerica Bank, advises the importance of carefully
reading your company’s offerings to understand what is new and determine your selections
based on any life changes you may have experienced or are planning in the upcoming year.
“Paying attention during your company’s open enrollment period can be one of the best
decisions you make all year regarding your budget and your well being,” says Spisak. “But be
sure to evaluate all your options. As things shift from one year to the next, you should assess
your benefits to ensure you and your family are covered.”
Spisak offers the following tips as you prepare for benefits enrollment:
Review all benefits. The recent economy may mean that a spouse has lost his or her job,
and the employed spouse has to shift his or her benefits package to accommodate the
other’s needs. Some individuals may be planning to start a family or are looking forward to
retirement and need to adjust their plans accordingly. If you have children, the child may
have better health insurance under your plan than your spouses. Your family needs are
important to consider when reviewing your benefits package.
“Remember these are financial decisions in addition to being decisions about your overall
welfare so just as with anything else, you need to work your benefits plans into your family
budget and goals,” says Spisak.
Ensure proper coverage for your children. For those with children, it’s a good idea to
examine how your company’s health insurance plan covers them. They may only be eligible
up until age 18, or they might just receive coverage until completing their college career. If
Comerica Bank Member FDIC, Equal Opportunity Lender, Equal Housing Lender
your son or daughter is about to graduate, you may have to find alternative means to provide
health insurance until they find a job.
Research flexible spending plans. Another good benefit to consider is the flexible
spending plan. Individuals unfamiliar with flex spending should know that it is an account
consisting of money contributed on a pre-tax basis through payroll deduction. These funds
can be used to pay for day-care services for children up to age 13, prescriptions and other
health care expenses. You’re reimbursing yourself with this plan, because users anticipate
future out-of-pocket expenses and reimburse themselves from the money they have set
“Flex-spending users should be conservative with the amount they set aside. At the end
of the year, the funds are not rolled over into the next,” explains Spisak. “As part of your
benefits planning, go through your prescriptions, anticipated doctor visits and other medical-
related spending to determine how much you want to contribute to this type of account.”
Life insurance planning. If you’re not enrolled in a life insurance plan, open enrollment
is a good time to start. Even though it seems daunting, individuals should review their life
insurance needs and decide who they want to be their life insurance beneficiary, oftentimes
a spouse. If you’re not yet enrolled in this type of plan, open enrollment is a good time to
Spisak also encourages everyone to attend benefits informational sessions offered by their
company and to read through their benefits materials carefully. If you are enrolling through
an online system, make sure you know your username and password, so that you can make
elections when you are ready. Lastly, mark the open enrollment dates on your calendar and
don’t wait until the last minute to plan.
For more information, please contact Kristin Arena at email@example.com or