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As we begin to approach open enrollment season, many of you may be thinking about your benefits package. Oftentimes when employees think about benefits, they only think about the employer-sponsored retirement plan and, PTO/vacation days. Okay, those are important. But did you know that most benefits packages contain other features that can be just as important and valuable as vacation and retirement savings? Some of the “other” benefits to be aware of are health savings accounts (HSAs), supplemental life insurance, long-term and short-term care, and Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs).

Health Savings Account
Health savings accounts (or HSAs) are accounts that are funded by employee contributions, but can also accept employer contributions when available. These funds are used for qualified medical expenses and are deposited pre-tax, which means you keep every full dollar to put toward your medical care. The funds in an HSA are always owned by the employee, can be rolled over into a new or subsequent employer’s HSA account, and the funds can be invested in a variety of investment vehicles.

Many employers automatically offer an amount of employee life insurance equal to the employee’s annual salary or up to a defined maximum amount. You may be able to elect additional life insurance for yourself, a spouse/domestic partner or children. This extra life insurance coverage is paid for through payroll deduction, can be issued up to a defined maximum amount that varies for each individual that would be insured, and is often issued without a medical exam. If this is available to you, it is a convenient way to add additional coverage.

Long-term and short-term care insurance can be offered to protect employees if they are injured on or off the job and require medical care. If you become seriously injured or sick and cannot perform your job, short-term and long-term care insurance can pay a percentage of the employee’s salary while recovering or transitioning to a new job function. Because terms of this type of coverage can vary, it is important to review this benefit at least once a year.

Employee Assistance Program
An Employee Assistance Program (or EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to assist employees in resolving personal problems that may adversely affect their work performance. They typically assist employees with issues like alcohol or substance abuse, child or elder care, relationship challenges, financial or legal programs, wellness matters, and traumatic events like workplace violence. Such programs are usually made available not only to the employee, but also to the employee’s spouse/domestic partner and/or children.

As you can see, your benefits packages likely contain more than just a retirement plan and vacation days! As a part of an employee’s overall compensation, a solid benefits package can add value and save an employee out-of-pocket expenses on a wide range of important issues. So take a closer look at your complete benefits package. You just might uncover value you didn’t realize was there for you!

John Poole, CRPC
Financial Fitness Consultant
[email protected]

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