By Jeremy Morris, Associate Editor, US Daily Review.
New research reveals that 56 percent of employees estimate they waste up to $750 because of mistakes made with insurance benefits elections, which could represent up to four months of an individual’s critical grocery budget. In fact, nearly 1-in-4 respondents (24 percent) say they chose the wrong level of insurance coverage or benefits options they didn’t need, and only 16 percent of employees feel confident they aren’t making mistakes during the enrollment process. These new findings are part of the 2012 Open Enrollment Survey of the Aflac WorkForces Report (AWR), an online survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers conducted in July 2012 by Research Now and released by Aflac, the No. 1 provider of supplemental and guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States.
The Open Enrollment Survey found that consumers are on auto pilot when it comes to the benefits selection process and aren’t even aware of the options they have. Reported mistakes of American workers include:
- More than 6-in-10 consumers (61 percent) are only sometimes or not at all aware of changes to their policies each year.
- 89 percent say they simply elect the same benefits options every year.
- Almost half (47 percent) rarely or never exceed deductible costs.
- Only 16 percent contribute the right amount to flexible spending accounts.
“Workers cannot afford to be in the dark about benefits options,” said Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president of Corporate Services at Aflac. “Consumers today need every dollar they have, with many clipping coupons and looking for ways to save. It’s critical that employees understand their benefits options during open enrollment to ensure that they don’t make mistakes that cost them money.”
Health Care Costs Cause Worry
In addition to confusion related to the open enrollment process, rising health care costs remain top-of-mind among employees. Almost half of American workers (43 percent) identified rising out-of-pocket medical expenses and health insurance costs as the most important issues to them right now. Nearly 4-in-10 workers (38 percent) say they are very or extremely concerned about the possibility of an unanticipated medical expense.
Many Americans have made changes in their everyday lives to meet the high cost of unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses. Forty percent have had to cut back on social activities, 28 percent say they have not been able to take a vacation and 22 percent have had to work more hours.