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open season ends

Posted by forlogos on November 22, 2006

Open season for choosing next years benefits just ended last week.

I chose the same elections as the year before, but I went with a higher Flexible Spending Account (FSA) amount. This will be my 3rd year using the FSA and am again increasing my contribution to it. One way or another, I’ve always ended up using the whole amount before year end. This year it was visits to the chiropractor, last year it was an extra dental visit or two. And there’s always all the over-the-counter medicines I purchase (thank you seasonal allergies and colds). An FSA is an account where you can set aside pre-tax dollars, taken from your paychecks throughout the year, to use for any eligible expenses not covered by your regular insurance. In my case, it’s for co-pays and otc drugs. I’m not too sure what else it can be used for. This deducted amount must be used within the year or it is forfeited. I like it since it’s taken pre-tax and I use the money anyway. The amount I’ve chosen isn’t an insanely high amount, so am sure that I’ll get to use all of it next year.

I work for a big Pharma company, so I think my insurance costs are low compared to that of people from other industries. As an employee, I get free prescriptions drugs (all drugs, not just the ones my company makes) and very affordable health and dental plans. There are even some programs that you can participate in to decrease the cost of insurance. The one I’m in has someone calling me every 4 months or so for about 15 minutes to discuss my health and health goals in exchange for a 20% discount and health advice. We aren’t offered the option of getting a Health Savings Account paired with a high deductible insurance plan. Actually, there’s no need for one as all the plans cost pretty much the same.

There are other cool benefits that you can choose from but haven’t had the chance to take advantage of. One of them is the financial planning plan and the other, the legal plan. It works like insurance, you pay a
premium to get service from providers, from fee-bsed financial planners and lawyers instead of healthcare professionals. Cool!

I also just rebalanced my 401K. I can do this at anytime during the year but aim to do it once during open house. A few years ago, I managed my different investment vehicles (401K, IRA, taxable) as completely separate portfolios, as though I had each of them for 3 different people, with numerous similarities in each. I’ve since changed my investing style. I’m still in the process of selling off my taxable investments and putting the proceeds in my ROTH IRA. My Roth is balanced to and complements my 401K, and I’ve reduced as many duplications as possible – such as not having a S&P 500 fund in both. Most of my investments are in index funds, my Roth has the International, Large Cap, and Small Cap index funds and my 401K has all the Mid Cap funds and a lifecycle fund.

Oh yeah!


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