Open enrollment season

It’s November, and that means open enrollment system. I lost count of how many hours I spent pouring over my husband’s and my packets from work. I wound up making two new spreadsheets for the purposes of determining which medical insurance to use, and what our actual take-home pay will be after pre-tax benefits, taxes, and post-tax benefits are taken out. It was annoying, but I enjoyed the challenge.

Unfortunately, the rising cost of health care has been somewhat imaginary in our world this year, as we had great, traditional PPO coverage through my husband’s employer. However, due to some major illnesses within his organization, they now only qualify for high risk insurance, which is both worse for coverage and far more expensive. Ultimately, I’m thankful that we have the choice between our employers’ coverage plans, but our coverage was much cheaper when we were on the open market and bought coverage through ehealthinsurance.com.

At least in 2011 we will go back to having an HSA (health savings account) instead of our HRAs (health reimbursement accounts) because HSAs can earn interest or become investments, which is a nice option both to avoid some taxes and save for health care costs in retirement.

The most exciting thing about this change in coverage is that I think our actual take home pay (net income) will be more in 2011 than it is in 2010. This is for a couple reasons: right now, I’m using my benefits money at work for a 457b (deferred compensation) account, and if my husband doesn’t take his employer’s medical coverage, he gets a ‘waive off credit’ in the form of cash. We’re also going to lower his 401k contributions for 2011 since we’ve decided that slowing our retirement savings for one year will mean freedom from debt much sooner–about a year sooner, in fact.

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