Wellness programs are becoming more and more common these days and employees are asking for them. One of the most common wellness topics we hear about is mental wellness, and more specifically: managing stress. According to The American Institute of Stress (AIS), workload is the most common source of stress, followed closely by people issues, juggling work & personal life, and a lack of job security. With so much of stress being linked to work, it’s not surprising that many employers are offering some assistance when it comes to handling stress in healthy ways. However, what are some ways that we can take charge of our own health and manage stress better?
Many companies offer FSA plans to help with rising medical costs. We discussed the basics of an FSA and the differences between other similar plans in our post: What is an HRA, FSA & HSA? An FSA is an account that you are able to put pre-tax dollars from your paycheck into that can be used (without being taxed) on eligible health and dependent care expenses. But how exactly do you use your FSA?
Employees often come to us throughout the year asking if they can change their plan, cancel their insurance, join a plan they aren’t on, etc. Insurance carriers are very strict regarding when you are allowed to enter, exit, or make changes to the group plan. Other than open enrollment (which is different for every company) or when you are first hired, you are only allowed to make changes if you have a qualifying event.
HSA eligible plans are extremely popular these days. However, not everyone has had experience using an HSA with their benefits. This can be confusing since the plans do function differently from other plans with their ties to a bank account - the HSA itself.
If you have an HMO plan, your healthcare is pretty well structured and costs are very clear up front. However, there are still things that you should know to get the most out of your HMO plan. Even if you are completely healthy, it’s a good idea to know how to take steps to prevent future issues and to make sure that you are ready if an issue were to arise.
If you have an PPO plan, your healthcare is fairly open ended and you are able to make decisions about your health care that you wouldn’t be able to make with an HMO. Knowing how to get the most out of your PPO is going to be extremely important if you want to get the best care for the best cost. Even if you are perfectly healthy now, it’s a good idea to know how to take steps to prevent future issues and to make sure that you are ready if an issue were to arise.
Medical insurance helps to reduce the cost of medical care but there are sometimes accounts added to those plans (or offered separately) to assist with the remaining costs. HRAs, FSAs, and HSAs are all accounts that are paired with your health insurance to help give you some additional help with your health expenses. You and/or your company contribute to the account with pre-tax money and when you spend it, it is also tax free. That’s going to help quite a bit if you have an upcoming procedure or if you or your spouse are having a baby. Pre-tax allows you to save a lot of money on expensive procedures, so these accounts are highly encouraged. So what is the difference?