Stepping into a new position means making a lot of tough decisions. Once you've made the decision to accept a new job, you now have to review all the benefits and decide what is best for you. I take all my financial decisions extremely seriously and it always shocks me how uninformed others can be when it comes to benefits and insurance options.
I learned how important knowing benefit options are a few years ago when legislation was passed decreasing education budgets in the state of Wisconsin. To make a long story short, funding was cut and many school districts switched insurance coverage to save money and not for the better. To absorb the extra cost I took it upon myself to learn more about benefits including flex spending, HSAs, HRAs, childcare accounts, and short term disability. Learning about these and spending a few extra minutes to submit our receipts from hospital and doctor bills has saved us thousands a year. It can be very confusing at first, but it the long run it is so beneficial to ask questions, attend open enrollment informational sessions, and talk with your co-workers to find out more about your plan, benefits, and how it can affect you.
My husband and I sit down every year and discuss how much to put into our Health Savings Account (HSA). This pre-tax money is taken out of paychecks and used for medical expenses. Our discussion involves talking about our past medical expenses and planning for ones we might have in the coming year (dental, vision, medical). It's always a balance between taking out enough money for medical expenses, but making sure it doesn't affect the paycheck amount too much.
Of course I had to relearn it all and re-decide everything with a different insurance plan when I recently took my new job. Luckily many things were similar. Not everything though. There were no short term disability options. Now as a mother, short term disability is important for many reasons. Mostly I look at it as financial help for a maternity leave. As unfortunate as it is, the US is far behind other countries with maternity leave benefits so I need to be proactive in thinking about the financial implications of taking up to 12 weeks off of work...unpaid. Since there was no way I was going without a short term disability policy (whether we decide to expand our family in the future or not), I looked into a policy with Aflac and was pleasantly surprised with their options. It's far more than just short term disability. There were options for additional money if you are hospitalized, for cancer coverage, accident coverage, and more. I ended up signing up for a short term disability and a hospital policy. I feel so much better knowing I am covered, for my family's sake, just in case of an emergency.
Aflac used to be a funny commercial with a loud duck and now I know how much more it is!