Open Enrollment: Other Benefit Selections

 Various benefits offered by employers might not fit the mold when it comes to choices you have to make during Open Enrollment.  Some benefits are more obscure.  For example legal services, long-term care insurance and even professional development tracks could be perceived as benefits today.  

Professional Development:

Professional development encompasses all types of facilitated learning opportunities, ranging from college degrees to formal coursework, conferences and informal learning opportunities. There are a variety of approaches to professional development, including coaching, consultation, mentoring, technical assistance, and even reflective supervision.  If your employer has an annual budget for such activities, you know they are serious.  I suggest reading your employee handbook to see what resources are available to enhance your career and personal development.

At the Center for Financial planning our firm maintains professional development tracks. We have a professional development budget and provide at least one formal meeting each year with each employee discussing their career and personal development. There are other meetings and discussions throughout the year, like check-ins and group discussions that can help provide insight to employees as well.

Group Long-Term Care Insurance:

Here’s a startling fact: Over 40% of people receiving long-term care services are under the age of 65. These days, some forward-thinking companies are offering long-term care insurance. As an employee, you may want to consider this as part of your benefits package, because it’s a way to help:

✔ Protect your savings and assets

✔ Protect your family and friends from the burden of caregiving

✔ Protect your ability to choose where care is received

Employer-sponsored group coverage for LTCi brings up some thorny issues. While some group plans can be helpful for folks with certain, otherwise-disqualifying health conditions, in some cases LTCi coverage is best customized and purchased through an independent broker. That’s because many group plans entice younger, healthier people to enroll by offering them lower rates, but these rates may still be higher than an individual policy. Group plans typically have fewer selections in benefit choices and less amount of home care.

Pre-Paid Legal Services

Another rather new and uncommon employee benefit is pre-paid legal service.  This is an individual or group low-cost provider for specific, limited legal services. The services are usually pretty basic, but can sometimes be specialized and can cost considerably less than hiring an attorney on your own. These services can be helpful to participants with anything from automotive-related issues and ticket violations to various basic legal issues like purchasing a home without a realtor.

Pre-paid legal services may be provided on an "open" basis, with a subscriber selecting specialists relatively freely from a pool of participating providers. They may also be offered in a "closed" system, in which most or all services are provided to a subscriber by one central law firm. Pre-paid legal services have existed since the early 1900s, and have increased in popularity since the 1970s.

These might not all be benefits that you have to select during open enrollment. In some cases, they may be yours for the taking. But you can’t take advantage, if you don’t know what’s available. So find out about your own company policies and make the most of them. This is just one in our 8-part blog series dedicated to answering the tough questions during the open enrollment season.

Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation.  The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.  Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.  You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.