Why you need a Benefits Binder

If you are like me, you still have a little pile in the corner made up of your 2015 benefits information.  And, hopefully, you’ve also made it through the first part of this year not having a reason to refer to it.  But it’s that time of year where we open the blinds, dust off the shelves and clear the clutter.  It would be so easy to just throw this material in the recycle bin, but organizing your family’s benefit information is more important than you think.

As you replace your ID cards and sort through all the bits and pieces about insurer websites and cool apps, you may buy into the idea of going paperless and maintaining your data online.  But going green in this instance may not necessarily serve your family best. When you store family health plan information online, you are often the only one who has access to it.  In the event of a sudden crisis, do you anticipate having the time to log on and search for pertinent details?  Suppose you need to ask someone for help so that you can focus on the immediate needs of your family?  Importantly, what if YOU require care?  Have you thought about how your loved ones would be able to locate vital information in a pinch? You can’t always do it all.  That’s why taking the time now to create a resource to improve your ability to manage an unexpected situation is time well spent.   Establishing a family #benefitsbinder is a smart solution that will give you peace of mind.

To start, pull out your Benefit Confirmation Sheets from open enrollment.  These records will serve as a checklist to identify what lines of coverage you and your family members are enrolled in. (For example, Medical, Dental, Vision, Life, etc.)  Prepare a list of each insurance carrier, group/policy number, and member service telephone number.  Make note of any additional information, such as member website, provider network, pharmacy information or health advocacy services.  Then, add your Human Resource Manager’s contact information to the list.  It is important that both you and your significant other have a go-to person at each other’s company to reach out to.

Next, create a directory of your family health care providers.  Record the contact information for your pediatrician, family practitioner, OB-GYN, dentist, and other specialists.  Be sure to include procedures for obtaining after-hours services, urgent care or the 24/7 nurse line.  Remember, utilizing providers within your network will significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

If you are you enrolled in any employer sponsored Life and Disability plans, keep an eye out for value-added benefits often included at no cost; such as Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Will Preparation Service, Identity Theft Protection, Emergency Travel Assistance and Return to Work Programs.   Take inventory now.  These benefits are intended to provide you with resources and simplify processes during stressful times.

Finally, if you are enrolled in a Flexible Savings Accounts (Health and Dependent Care Accounts), Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), Health Savings Account (HSA), or Commuter benefit, compile the details for submitting claims. Unexpected events can often put a strain on your personal finances. You’ll be able to quickly seek reimbursement of services or products when this information is readily available to you.

As a mother, I take pride in knowing that I’ve have done my best to manage the details of my family’s life.  And I am certain you do as well.  That’s why I hope you recognize the value of organizing your benefit information and are inspired to prepare for the unexpected.

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