Benefits

Everything You Need to Know About Open Enrollment

Ah, fall. A time to drink pumpkin spice lattes, admire the changing leaves, and watch college football. It's a season of change, of possibility, of openness—which makes it a great season for, yep, open enrollment.

Since this has been a crazy year for many of us—from losing jobs to getting rehired to pursuing a new source of income—your open enrollment may look different this year than years past. To help you prepare, let’s take a deeper dive. 

What is Open Enrollment for Health Insurance?

It’s a small window of time—anywhere from a few weeks to a few months—that allows you to make changes to your health insurance plan or enroll in a new one. 

Why is Open Enrollment Important?

It’s all about that first word: open. For most of the year, enrollment is closed, meaning you can’t make changes to your plan. There are some exceptions, called “qualifying life events,” such as marriage, having a baby, losing a job, or getting a divorce. But unless you have one of these, you can’t make changes to the plan you chose after open enrollment. 

That’s why it’s crucial you choose the right plan. You may discover that getting on your spouse’s employer sponsored plan is cheaper than having your own policy. When you make this discovery during open enrollment, you can switch to your spouse’s plan and enjoy saving money throughout the year. 

When does Open Enrollment Start?

For 2021 plans, open enrollment begins on November 1 and ends on December 15 (to get more information, check out the government website.) If you get health insurance through your employer, your HR department will reach out to you with open enrollment information.

What if I Miss Open Enrollment?

The rules are pretty strict, but there are three ways around it. 

1. You have a qualifying life event. 

When you undergo a major change in your life, you’ll most likely have to adjust your health insurance. Thankfully, the government recognizes that, too, which is why for certain events, you’ll get a special enrollment period. Those events are generally: 

  • Getting married 
  • Having or adopting a baby
  • Moving to a new city
  • Losing or getting a new job 
  • Turning 26 or 65
  • Getting divorced
  • Having someone on your plan die
  • Becoming a U.S. citizen

If you go through any of these events, you’ll get around 30 to 60 days to make changes to your plan.

 

2. You’re Native American.

If you’re a part of a federally recognized tribe, you get a special monthly enrollment period. You can find more information on that here.

3. You get short-term insurance. 

Short-term insurance is basically how it sounds—an insurance plan that fills the gaps between long-term insurance plans. States have various rules around short-term insurance (like how long you can buy coverage), but if your only alternative is to go uninsured until open enrollment, buying insurance for the short-term might be best for you. 

Need Help With Your Coverage?

Look, we get it. Health insurance is notoriously complicated. If your head is spinning, we can help. Just contact us give us a call at 877-725-1800, and we’ll you give you simple answers to your most complex questions.

Guidelines for Preparing for the Annual Medicare Enrollment Period

MEDICARE

If you qualify for Medicare benefits, you’ve probably received or should soon be receiving your” Medicare and You 2021″ handbook as October 15 through December 7 is the Annual Open Enrollment Period. This is the time when you have the opportunity to sign up, keep or make changes to your Medicare and Prescription Drug plan. Here are four basic guidelines on how to prepare for the annual Medicare Enrollment Period, along with some considerations and warnings.

1. LIST ALL YOUR PRESCRIPTIONS

First, make a list of your all your prescriptions, along with their dosages and frequencies taken. Review each insurance plan’s formularies to ensure all your prescriptions are covered. Keep in mind that although plans usually don’t change their prices or name, formularies do tend to constantly change. That’s why you need to review them so that you can maximize your coverage.

2. DECIDE IF YOU'RE SATISFIED WITH YOUR CURRENT PLAN

Review the past year and how your medical needs were or were not covered. Ask if the coverage was enough and if it covered the medical services you both needed and used most frequently. Do you notice any gaps in your plan’s coverage that you would like to have filled in 2021? Also, determine if you’ve spent more in out-of-pocket costs than you had planned to spend and if you used any out-of-network services.

If you’re happy with your current plan and coverage, you probably don’t have to change anything. Just continue paying your premiums, and your coverage will be renewed. However, be aware of any notices you get from your insurance plans during the next couple of weeks, which may include changes in rates and formularies.

3. KNOW YOUR COVERAGE FOR PREVENTIVE SERVICES

Ask your health care provider or doctor about the specific preventive services you need as well as how often you need them. These include medical services, such as annual physicals, mammograms, bone scans, colonoscopies and scans. Consider that sometimes doctors recommend tests that are done more frequently than what’s covered by Medicare. Fortunately, Medicare does cover some types of diagnostic tests for exams showing abnormalities.  

4. CHECK THE AVAILABLE PLANS IN YOUR AREA

After evaluating your current insurance plan and considering how your medical needs may change in 2021, the next step is checking out the plans that are available where you live. For example, maybe a particular plan wasn’t available last year but will be available in 2021.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS AND WARNINGS

  • Consider that choosing a different plan could mean paying less for high out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Check to see if your physicians and medical clinics are still in-network. 
  • If you need additional information, regarding comparing insurance plans, call 1-800-MEDICARE after October 15.

 CONTACT US

Questions? For more information or to receive a free quote, contact us or call 877-725-1800. We handle both personal and commercial insurance.

Happy family mother housewife and child in laundry with washing machine

Why 2020 is the Year We Need Life Insurance.

Simply put, life insurance provides your spouse, children, and loved ones (also known as “beneficiaries”) with financial support if you were to pass away. Making sure you’re covered is one of the most empathetic financial decisions you’ll ever make: you’re not thinking about your death so much as you’re thinking about the quality of your loved ones’ lives. And in that sense it’s an essential part of your overall financial plan.

Happy family mother housewife and child in laundry with washing machine

Why do you need Life Insurance?

2020. That's why.

But seriously—if your loved ones depend on your income, you need life insurance. Here are three big reasons why. 

1. To relieve financial burdens.

Funerals are expensive—on average, $7,000 — $10,000. You don’t want to leave your family paying out-of-pocket for that. On top of funeral and burial costs, your family will be in charge of paying the mortgage (or rent), utilities, groceries, credit cards, debt—the list goes on (and if you pass during an economic crisis, like the “Coronavirus Crash,” that list feels way longer). Life insurance replaces your income for years to come, so your family won’t be stuck in a tough place if you’re not around. 

2. To give your family time to plan.

It also gives your family time to grieve without worrying about paying the bills or finding a new source of income. You’re buying your family time to figure out what life looks like without you and what steps they need to take next. 

3. To give you and your family peace of mind. 

Life insurance answers the big “what if” question that keeps us tossing and turning at night: what if I pass away?  Though no policy can replace you—your humor, your love, your personality—it can put to rest the fear that your family will struggle financially in your immediate absence. 

Make Sure Your Loved Ones Are Covered

Look, here’s the thing—we often get so wrapped up planning our own financial futures, we forget to secure our loved ones’ futures if we die. If you don’t have life insurance, make it a point to get some today. Take a moment and contact a Snyder insurance representative, and we’ll help you customize a plan that fits your family’s needs.

Online Meeting

Online Meetings and Working Remotely During the Pandemic? Here’s How to Safeguard Your Online Meetings

Online Meeting

To call the opening weeks of the pandemic a nightmare for American businesses is a gross understatement. One of the biggest challenges was a rapid and effective shift from in-person to remote work. Sales at Zoom, Skype, and other video conferencing platforms surged as employers scrambled to keep things moving.

Maybe you’re one of those business owners or managers who quickly purchased an enterprise account for your employees. And several months later, not only are your staff meetings, and sales calls all online, but your employees are all now trying to outdo each other with the most eye-catching filters and virtual backgrounds.

Now that you’re starting to settle into this remote world, you should evaluate the cybersecurity risks your video conferencing system and processes may pose. Perhaps you’ve seen headlines about Zoom bombing or even fallen victim to it. But the business risk associated with video conferencing is not limited to lost time from disruptive trolls. If you’re sharing sensitive financial or confidential information with other employees or clients across these platforms, you need to know how to safeguard the data. Otherwise, if compromised, your losses could be costly. 

It’s yet another potential headache in the era of COVID-19. 

But it’s one you may avoid if you take the following steps to mitigate risk.

Assess the security of your system

Start by assessing the platform you currently use. Understand that hackers and criminals will find new vulnerabilities over time. This isn’t a one and done situation. Keep your IT staff up-to-date with application improvements to patch those vulnerabilities as they are discovered.

Also, understand that your business’ video conferencing system is not the only third-party platform you use. It includes everything your employees use to join your online meetings, from their webcams to their microphones. Even separate wireless devices, such as smart speakers, can be compromised and used to collect sensitive information.  

Make sure your IT department fortifies company-owned equipment with the latest security measures, and regularly updates those security applications. Also, teach your employees to keep their computing equipment secure at all times.

Evaluate your operations

Review your written policies to determine if they follow best practices for keeping online meetings as secure as possible. Do this periodically — at least once every six months — to keep pace with new developments in IT security.

Also, make sure your employees are following company policies. Are your staff exchanging financial or other sensitive information via video conference, when they should be directing customers to a payment gateway? Are they inadvertently sharing confidential information when they are screen-sharing documents during a public presentation? You may need to provide additional training to mitigate the risk of sensitive data being stolen during online meetings and sales calls.

Evaluate your operations

Review your written policies to determine if they follow best practices for keeping online meetings as secure as possible. Do this periodically — at least once every six months — to keep pace with new developments in IT security.

Also, make sure your employees are following company policies. Are your staff exchanging financial or other sensitive information via video conference, when they should be directing customers to a payment gateway? Are they inadvertently sharing confidential information when they are screen-sharing documents during a public presentation? You may need to provide additional training to mitigate the risk of sensitive data being stolen during online meetings and sales calls.

Make sure you're covered

If you do discuss financial or sensitive information via video conference, have your counsel ensure that you’re using the proper disclaimers to minimize liability. If your data is stolen, make sure you’re covered from potential damages.

A comprehensive cyber liability insurance policy is a must in this brave new world of remote work. For more information about how you can be covered in the event of data loss, contact a Snyder Insurance representative today.

Castaway - A Real Life Insurance Scenario

Castaway – A Real Life Insurance Scenario

We’ve all seen Castaway, right?

Tom Hanks’ plane crashes, he ends up stranded on a deserted tropical island for four years with an inanimate volleyball named Wilson as his only friend and courageously sails his way off the island.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be an emotional crybaby but the scene where Tom Hanks realizes he can’t swim to save Wilson and apologizes profusely to a blood-faced volleyball always causes me to ugly cry.

Every. Single. Time.

But it got me thinking.

What happens to your life insurance policy?


Interested in getting your life insurance policy set up? Check out my life insurance page!

Medical insurance cards

New Health Insurance, Now What?

New Health Insurance, Now What?

1. Understand your Health Care Coverage

Take some time to acquaint yourself with the costs and fees of your shiny, new policy. The points of your policy you’ll want to know inside and out are: co-pays, emergency room fees, prescription coverage and your annual deductible. Understanding these fees and terms will help you in making good financial and health decisions.

For example, if you’ve already met your deductible for the year and your doctor wants to take care of some routine matters, great! It makes sense to have them done in the year your deductible has been met. 

2. Take control of your health

Most insurance companies reward those who have healthy habits and take preventive health measures seriously.  Make it a point to find out what healthy perks are available to you as a policy holder. From gym memberships to fitness trackers and even discounts on other healthy living products and services — you could be paying for something out of pocket that your insurance policy will cover! 

3. Choose your Primary Care Provider

Not all plans require a designated primary care physician but even if they don’t it’s worth searching online to see who’s in network and covered by your new plan. It can be a costly mistake to schedule an appointment with a physician you’ve seen in the past who may now be out of your network. Plus, putting in the work upfront puts you in the driver’s seat of your health. You’ll be confident and prepared when you have to go in rather than scrambling at the last minute to locate a physician when you really need to see one. 

4. Be Prepared For Your First Visit

If this is your first time seeing a new physician know your family history and have a list of your current medications ready. Also, take the time to make a list of any health concerns, questions, and take notes. This is the time to establish a relationship with your doctor. 

Bearded Benefits Guy - Justin Wilfley

What is Open Enrollment?

It’s me, Justin. Your bearded benefits guy. Changing it up a bit today. Usually, I’m talking to business owners. The people setting up the benefits plans. But today, I’m talking to everyone else. That means you. The person using the benefits plan. Why? Two words: open enrollment.

In this video, Justin Wilfley breaks down small group health insurance and explains what you need to know.

Small Group Health Insurance and What You Need to Know

There are a lot of things to talk about when it comes to purchasing Small Group Health Insurance. And it’s a dangerous minefield of acronyms. Our Bearded Benefits Guy, Justin Wilfley, is going to break it down for you in the way that only he can do!

5 Key Reasons You Should Rethink Employee Group Benefits. Justin Wilfley, the Bearded Benefits Guy, explains how important group benefits are to your business.

5 Key Reasons You Should Rethink Your Employee Benefits Plan

Play Video

Group benefits are about more than just employee health insurance. In this video, our own Bearded Benefits Guy, Justin Wilfley, drops some beneficial knowledge. He’s going to explain how group benefits are an important aspect of your business’ success.