Open enrollment: The right plan
How to get better health coverage, tax breaks and other benefits during open enrollment.
(Money Magazine) -- It's 2008 open enrollment, your chance to elect better health coverage, special tax breaks and other goodies from your employer. Here's how to vote.
Pick a health candidate
You'll find fewer differences in basic coverage and sticker price among plans this year: Nearly all have provider networks, cover standard preventive care and, with the exception of high-deductible plans, cost an average of around $3,300 a year. The differences lie in details like whether you're able to see providers who aren't in the network and how much you'll pay for that privilege.
First Narrow your options to plans in which most of your docs are in the network.
Second Among these, compare deductibles, co-pays and reimbursements for out-of-network care. Think twice before signing up for a high-deductible, low-premium plan; these tend to save money for only the youngest, healthiest employees.
Say yes to flexible spending
Last year just 35 percent of eligible employees signed up for these pretax accounts that basically turn certain routine expenses into tax deductions. No excuse this year: FSAs are easier to use, thanks to debit cards and automatic reimbursement systems. If you're married and in the 28 percent tax bracket, putting $7,500 in FSAs could cut your taxes by $2,000 or more.
Health care Contribute at least enough to cover deductibles and regular prescriptions.
Dependant care You can set aside up to $5,000 for day care, day camp and more.
Transportation Many companies allow you to set aside money for commuting costs.
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