Aflac Open Enrollment – Look Ahead to Protect Your Family #Aflac #MC

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Aflac. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

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Ever wish you had more insurance coverage for the times you need it? What many don’t realize is that open enrollment periods provide the opportunity to increase or decrease health insurance, short and long term disability coverage. These periods exists for a reason. Our lives change on a regular basis, which means that our coverage needs may change as well.

Why Your Open Enrollment Period is Important

If you’ve ever paid attention to your open enrollment periods, which are typically offered in the last quarter of the year, you’ll see the many options that you have available to you. If you’re pregnant, anticipating a surgery, or have recently added to your family, then you may want to take a close look at your policy and see what changes you can implement in order to provide  you and your family with the coverage you need.

For example, I was still working for my former employer when I became pregnant. My pregnancy was confirmed at the end of June 2008 and I was due in February of 2009. As this would be my first child, I wanted to be able to take my full maternity leave, but we were a little apprehensive about it because I brought in half of our income. When my open enrollment period arrived in November of 2008, I jumped at the chance to change my coverage. I took the 90% health insurance coverage, which would reduce the out-of-pocket cost of my delivery by more than $2400. I also opted to increase my short and long term disability insurance, as there’s always a chance that things may not go as planned.

I can’t express enough how happy I am that I had the good sense to make those changes. During the last month of my pregnancy, complications arose. Those complications resulted in 3 additional doctor’s visits, 2 additional ultrasounds, emergency induction and a prepped operating room just in case the baby would have to be taken by c-section. Add an extra night in the hospital for my son and I (three nights total), four post-delivery prescriptions and 2 required visits to the pediatrician within my son’s first week of life and you’ve got quite a hefty pile of medical bills.

The day after I came home from the hospital, my manager called me and offered a part-time position or a voluntary layoff. What a nice surprise for a new mom!

My open enrollment period not only allowed me to better prepare for the medical bills and provide a higher rate of compensation for my time off work, but it saved me a small fortune in medical debt that I would have been unable to afford due to the dwindling options my employer offered me.

My Father’s Experience

In 2005, at 48 years old, my father could sense that his health was failing. The years of hard labor, smoking and drinking had finally begun to take its toll. He started complaining of shortness of breath quite frequently, as well as pain in his chest. Without insurance, he objected to seeing a doctor; arguing that he just couldn’t afford the costs. I encouraged him to look for a policy that would help to offset the costs of his health care. After a few months of me drilling the idea of health insurance into his head, he finally made the call and set up an appointment with an agent. The agent was scheduled to come out to his home on Monday. Unfortunately, the Sunday evening before that scheduled appointment, my father’s girlfriend found him face down in the hallway floor. He was breathing, but it was labored. His arm was numb and he had severe pain in his neck and chest. He was having a heart attack.

His girlfriend did her best to get him up and convinced him that he had to go to the hospital. She drove him to the hospital and he was admitted into the emergency room immediately. An hour later, I got a phone call at work from my uncle with the news that my dad was in the hospital and they didn’t know if he’d make it or not. They believed he had an aortic dissection and they were going to fly him by helicopter to a St. Louis hospital for immediate care. Although he had only experienced a heart attack, and not an aortic dissection, the cost of his care was exorbitant. He had to undergo triple bypass surgery and nearly 3 weeks of recovery. Not to mention the initial emergency room visit, care there and the helicopter ride to St. Louis. The bill for his care at the St. Louis hospital alone topped $128,000.

“One day. I shouldn’t have put it off.” That’s what he said when I got to the emergency room before he was flown to St. Louis and it’s all he kept saying when he was finally taken off the ventilator four days later.

As the bills came in, I tried my best to keep him calm. I didn’t want him to be under all of that stress, but it was inevitable. I just prayed that the stress of the medical debt wouldn’t kill him. Although there were times that I thought it would, he’s managed to overcome it. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.

Know Your Health Care Options

If the personal experiences above hit home for you, I strongly suggest that you check into your options for health care. Visit your HR representative and learn as much as you can before your open enrollment period. You can also check out Aflac’s Open Enrollment Resources. You’ll find up-to-date information on a variety of topics, including that of the recently introduced health care reform laws.

Aflac is the #1 provider of supplemental and guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States. They recently released a study, the 2013 Open Enrollment Survey, which was an online survey of 2,001 U.S. consumers conducted by Research Now in August 2013. The results of the study were quite enlightening. The following quote is taken directly from the findings:

The Aflac survey found that 69 percent of workers say their employer hasn’t communicated changes coming to their benefits package due to health care reform despite the October 1 deadline for employers to notify their employees of their coverage options. Employers’ delay in communication thus far regarding potential employee benefits changes may be in part due to their own lack of preparation for health care reform. In fact, only 9 percent of companies indicate they are very prepared to implement required changes to their business based on the health care reform law at this time.2 Although the implications of health care reform are yet to be seen, some employers (41 percent) believe more gaps in coverage will be created and 69 percent believe costs to employees will increase as a result of health care reform.2

For example, the 2013 Open Enrollment Survey found that:
• 74 percent of workers sometimes or never understand everything that is covered by their insurance policy today.
• Now, nearly 4-in-10 (37 percent) workers think it will be more difficult to understand everything in their health care policy with the changes dictated by health care reform.
• Nearly a third (28 percent) of employees is confused, worried or simply unsure about the change their employer is making to their health care coverage or benefits options due to health care reform.
• 60 percent of workers have not begun to educate themselves about coming changes to their benefits package due to health care reform.

Visit Aflac’s Open Enrollment Resources to find out more about how health care reform laws may affect you and your family, or to find out more about supplemental insurance. Supplemental policies may be the way to go if you’re trying to combat rising health care costs, but don’t want to sacrifice you or a family member’s health in the process. They’re definitely worth a look.

Do you currently have a supplemental insurance policy? What influenced your decision to get one?

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