10 Tips to Take Advantage of Your Employee Benefits
You should never leave money, or in this case, benefits on the table.
When it comes to your employee benefits, it can be difficult to fully understand how to make the most of what your employer offers, but that’s what we’re here for.
What are employee benefits?
Employee benefits are provided to you by your employer in addition to your base salary and wage. Many things can be included in an employee benefits package, but they typically include:
- Health Insurance Benefits
- Consumer-Directed Benefits
- Retirement Plans
- Dental or Vision Plans
- Life Insurance
- Paid time off and paid holidays
There are a few different ways that you can make the most of your employee benefits. Depending on the benefits that your company offers you have a couple of different choices.
10 Tips to Make the Most of Your Employee Benefits
1. Use your FSA funds effectively
When it comes to Flexible Spending Accounts, some FSA plans have deadlines for each plan year. Therefore, you must use the funds in your FSA or lose them. There are lots of ways to use your FSA dollars. So don’t leave money on the table, check with your employer to discover if your FSA dollars rollover.
2. Use your FSA and HSA dollars towards many different products, not just medical products.
FSA and HSA funds aren’t limited to just medical products. There are many different products that are FSA/HSA eligible. Discover eligible products for an FSA and HSA at FSAstore.com, and HSAstore.com. For Difference Card members you can find a list of eligible items linked here.
3. Research your Health Insurance Policy
Some health insurance policies include incentives and perks in addition to the standard health insurance benefits they provide.
Incentives can range depending on your insurance provider, but some providers offer wellness related perks such as discounts on gym memberships to promote employee health and wellness. Other wellness related incentives include free health and wellness coaching.
Some insurance providers are even offering tele-health services, therapy services, a nurse advice line, prescription discounts, travel assistance, and health supplies such as: breast pumps, diabetic testing kits and Covid testing kits.
There are many services available to health insurance policy holders that are relatively unknown. That’s why it’s important to research your health insurance policy and take advantage of all the benefits offered.
4. Look into an Employee Assistance Program
Most employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that offers no-cost services and access to programs such as:
- Confidential Emotional Support with trained clinicians
- Work-Life Solution Support that provides help with finding childcare or family related services
- Financial Resources to assist in retirement planning or with taxes
- Identify Theft Services to help you repair your credit
- Legal Guidance from attorneys for help with legal issues
- Will Preparation and Estate Guidance
- Most EAPs have an online portal or phone line for live support with accessing these services.
5. Take advantage of your Annual Wellness Visit
As a beneficiary of health insurance, you are given one free wellness visit a year.
Annual wellness visits include a review of a patient’s medical history, potential risk factors for depression and mood disorders, medications, and functional ability and level of safety.
This wellness checkup also allows your healthcare provider to run routine examinations and screenings, administer vaccines, and have an open dialog with patients about their overall health and lifestyle choices. All of which is instrumental in giving your healthcare provider an overall picture of your health and can even aid in early detection and prevention practices.
6. Contribute the max amount to your HSA
When it comes to contributing to your Health Savings Account it is important to look at it as a retirement account. To take advantage of the power of an HSA you should consider contributing the maximum amount allowed by the IRS and using another form of payment for current healthcare expenses. By doing this you will be in the best position to see the compounding power of an HSA.
7. Consider contributing to a Dependent Care FSA
Child and dependent care is a large expense for many American families. Millions of people rely on child care to work, while others are responsible for older parents or disabled family members. Participants in a Dependent Care Account can save on these expenses while they work.
Participants in a DCA will not have to pay Medicare, Social Security or Federal Income taxes on their DCA contributions, and as a tax-favored vehicle, this money will stay tax-free when used. A DCA also helps participants save money because they will have a larger “take-home” paycheck.
8. Stay within your health insurance network
Make sure you are visiting care providers that are within the network established by your health insurance provider. This will prevent the chance of any surprise costs associated with visiting an out-of-network provider.
You can search for in-network providers within the web portal of your health insurance provider.
9. Participate in programs like a Healthy Difference Wellness Program
If your employer offers a wellness program like ones offered by The Difference Card, you could take advantage of lower copays or increased employer HSA contributions.
The Healthy Difference Wellness Program incentivizes healthy habits and provides members with rewards. Members can earn benefit based rewards for completing a wellness program where they can earn a lower out of pocket cost for their deductible or copayments.
Wellness program designs include:
- Completing a Personal Health Assessment
- Getting a routine physical
- Getting a flu shot
- Getting a COVID shot
- Earning points by attending wellness webinars
10. Use your paid time off
More than half of Americans do not use all of their paid vacation days. Paid time off is an employee benefit that is more important now than ever. As the lines between home and work life have become blurred, its essential for mental health that employees use the full allotted time given to them.
Some employers have even switched to an “unlimited PTO” policy in order to encourage employees to take a physical break from work without feeling the guilt of using up their time off.