Signing up for benefits offered by your employer can be extremely satisfying. You get the thrill of accomplishing important tasks along with the fun of getting free stuff. Consider these 4 tips for making the most of annual enrollment.
1. Evaluate your health care needs
Does the health plan you chose last year still work for you and your family? If you have a choice of plans, these considerations may help you weigh your options:
- How much you pay toward the premium
- Your annual deductible
- Copays for office visits and prescriptions
- Your employer’s contribution to a health savings account (HSA), if applicable
- Whether your doctor and hospital are in-network
In addition to understanding and comparing your plan options, consider how much health care you actually use and how much that may change in the coming year.
Then compare what your out-of-pocket costs would be under each of your plan options. When deciding which plan to select, first determine what’s most important to you. Is it low cost, access to many local in-network providers, the distance you have to travel for care, or something else?
Finally, once you've signed up for a health plan, make sure you know what you're entitled to so you don't miss out. Some of the care that people skip because of cost—such as preventive screenings, annual visits, immunizations, and mental health counseling—may be, in fact, covered at no cost under their plans.1
Don't forget your eyes and teeth: Even if your health plan covers emergency dental work or annual vision exams, your employer may offer and subsidize additional coverage that can help you manage expenses. Adding dental and vision coverage may decrease your out-of-pocket spending for these services.
Read more about health-related benefits: Fidelity's Annual Enrollment Guidebook
2. Consider all available ways to save for health care
If available and you are eligible, consider if these tax-advantaged accounts are right for you to help cover out-of-pocket expenses now and in the future.
Health savings account (HSA)
If you participate in an HSA-eligible health plan, you have access to one of the most tax-efficient savings options available. Some key features:
- Contributions, investment gains, and withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are all tax-free.2
- If you change jobs, you can keep your HSA and continue to contribute as long as you enroll in another HSA-eligible health plan.
- You can invest some or all of the money saved in an HSA for the future.
Consider contributing at least enough to cover medical expenses you expect to incur next year. Contribute the maximum if you can, because you don’t have to spend everything you contribute this year. Some employers even offer matching contributions to HSAs—that's like free money that can be saved for the future or used for health care right away. Contributions from your employer count toward the annual HSA contribution limit.
The HSA contribution limits for 2023 are $3,850 for self-only coverage and $7,750 for family coverage.
For 2024, the IRS contribution limits for HSAs are $4,150 for individual coverage and $8,300 for family coverage.
If you're 55 or older during the tax year, you may be able to make a catch-up contribution, up to $1,000 per year. Your spouse, if age 55 or older, could also make a catch-up contribution, but will need to open their own HSA.
A variety of tools are available, including this free decision support tool from Fidelity. If you’d like to compare the costs you might end up paying, select the “comparison calculator.”
Read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: 3 healthy habits for health savings accounts
Flexible spending account (FSA)
There are 2 types of FSAs to consider, both of which allow you to set aside money before taxes. A health FSA can be used for qualified medical expenses, such as over-the-counter medications, and a limited-purpose FSA can be used for eligible vision, dental, and preventive care expenses in conjunction with an HSA. Contribute only what you expect to spend next year on qualified medical expenses, because in most cases you lose any money you don’t spend.
3. Make the most of tax-advantaged retirement accounts like a 401(k)
If you haven't done so already, consider signing up for your workplace retirement savings plan. Your employer may offer a traditional account and a Roth account. A traditional account lets you save money on a pre-tax basis so any contributions you make will come out of your paycheck before you get the money and will reduce your taxable income for the year. Saving in a Roth account is done on an after-tax basis so it won't reduce this year's taxes but withdrawals of contributions and earnings are tax-free in retirement.3
Try to save at least enough to capture the full match if one is offered by your employer. That's like free money so do your best to get as much of the match as you can. Ultimately, consider saving 15% of your pre-tax income for retirement—including any match you get from your employer. That's the amount Fidelity suggests saving in order to have the best chance of maintaining your lifestyle in retirement.
To help you get there, sign up for the auto-increase feature if it's offered. Your contribution amount will be increased each year without any extra work on your part. Make sure you're investing your contributions for growth potential so your money is working as hard as you do. In general, we believe younger people should be invested in stocks for long-term growth potential, while people closer to retirement may be better off in a more balanced stock/bond portfolio. Everyone's situation is different, so consider working with a financial professional if you need help with your investment mix.
Read Viewpoints on Fidelity.com: How to start investing
4. Learn about all the benefits you get
A retirement savings account and health plan are critical but there may be more benefits on the table that could help you save money, protect what you have, and plan for the future. Supplemental benefits are often overlooked but can be very helpful in supporting your overall health and mental well-being. For instance, life insurance and disability insurance can help you protect everything you've worked hard to build. Though they may come with a cost, even through an employer, the protection they provide in the event of a worst-case scenario can be invaluable.
Supplemental benefits can also help you save and reduce stress. They could range from condition-specific benefits like mental health and caregiving support, to new ways to protect yourself with pet and legal insurance. Some employers even offer to help pay off student loan debt or they'll pay for continuing education. Think about how to use these additional benefits to free up time, reduce stress and anxiety, and support a happier and healthier you.Learn how supplemental benefits can help with a wide range of life events and experiences: Think beyond health insurance! Are you maximizing your supplemental benefits?
Get tools to plan for the future and deal with the unexpected
The benefits offered by your employer can be powerful tools that can help build your financial future. To make the most of your benefits, find out what's offered and take advantage of them when you can.