Dear E B on Affordable CDHPs and Voluntary Benefits

This post is part of our “Dear E.B.” series, in which Mercer’s very own advice columnist (“E.B.,” for Employee Benefits) responds to questions concerning health and well-being that are on the minds of employees across the country.

Dear E.B.,

My employer just changed our benefits. They added this medical plan called a “CDHP plan” and some other things called “Voluntary Benefits.” The cost for my current plan, with a $350 deductible, is going up by 23% and I don’t think I can afford it anymore. The cost of the CDHP plan is a lot lower but I’m worried that if I get sick or have an accident, I wouldn’t be able to come up with the cash to go to the doctor -- or worse yet, pay for any time in the hospital. If I enroll in that CDHP plan I feel like I’ll never be able to leave the house and have to keep myself away from all the germs that could get me sick. It is flu season… Help!!!!

Living in a Hazmat Suit

Dear Hazmat,

You can get out of that suit and enjoy life because I think I can help you reduce the worry of the unexpected. First, if you enroll in the CDHP plan, you can take advantage of the lower cost and put some money back in your pocket. Second, those new Voluntary Benefits probably include Group Auto/Home and Employee Purchase plans. You can save up to 30% on your car and home insurance when you buy those through the Group plan. This puts even more money back in your pocket. An Employee Purchase plan lets you purchase items without credit and make payments through paycheck deductions. This can be helpful in case you have to buy something unexpected like a new washing machine.

Third, use a portion of what you save to enroll in the Accident or Critical Illness plan that is probably offered in your new Voluntary Benefits. These plans will make a payment directly to you if you have an accident or are diagnosed with a serious illness. Everything that is covered will be listed in the plan details. After you take these steps, you may have some money left over to put into the new Health Savings Account, where you save on taxes. This can help you pay for any qualified medical expenses. Good luck and go enjoy the fresh air!

Advice by Tim Weber, Mercer’s Voluntary Benefits Business Leader in Urbandale, Iowa

by E.B.

Mercer's Very Own "Advice Columnist

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