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Congratulations on your new job! You’re probably excited about getting into your first full-time gig and feeling a little anxious about your upcoming first day. While you contemplate your first day’s wardrobe and pack a box of personal desktop items, don’t forget about preparing to better understand your new health insurance. Since it’s your first full-time job, you’re likely new to the world of company-sponsored health insurance coverage. Keep reading. Today, we’ll highlight three things you’ll want to keep in mind on your first day at your new job, so you can squeeze every last benefit out of whatever health insurance offering your new employer provides.

1. Inquire About Insurance Coverage Timelines

Health insurance is often complicated to understand, even for those who’ve had it or dealt with providers for years. So, for a newcomer to the health insurance benefits of the workplace, one of the first details you’ll want to be aware of is the timeline for coverage.

When Insurance Coverage Begins

Some employers offer health insurance benefits effective on day one. Others require new workers to be employed for 90 or 120 days before official coverage begins. Knowing what your new job offers will be important since there may be a few months or so that you’ll have to go without insurance. To ensure you’re protected during those probationary periods, you can explore short-term health insurance plans that are often affordable and designed to cover healthcare costs for short stints.

When Annual Enrollment Is Available

Once you have an opportunity to enroll in a group health insurance plan, you’ll want to ask about when the next chance to enroll might be. Most company group plans allow employees to re-enroll annually and within a window of time. You may be starting tomorrow, but you could be facing an annual enrollment again at the first of the year.

What Constitutes Special Enrollment Periods

Regardless of the health insurance plan you have, you’ll want to talk to Human Resources about how you can make changes to your plan. Special enrollment periods might be available should you get married and need to add a spouse or have a baby who may also need coverage. Make sure you understand what qualifies as a special enrollment period, so you can make necessary changes as your insurance needs change.

2. Be Sure You Understand Coverage Parameters

Not all employer-sponsored health insurance benefits are created equal. You’ll want to be aware of what coverage parameters you have with regard to costs, providers, and benefits. Even if you’re healthy and don’t anticipate healthcare issues, these are details you’ll want to inquire about with your new job.

In-Network vs. Out-of-Network Providers

Every health insurance plan covers enrollees differently. And some may have in-network versus out-of-network requirements. This means if you choose to visit a doctor or specialist in-network, your costs will be lower than if you chose someone out of the provider’s network. Not asking upfront can translate to really expensive doctor visits and services, should you need them.

Are Essential Health Benefits Covered?

It’s also worth asking about free essential health benefits that may be part of your plan. Some preventive care services, like routine annual physicals, won’t cost you a dime as a part of your health insurance plan. Your coverage might also include lab work or testing, prenatal and emergency services, as well.

Know Your Copays, Coinsurance, and Deductibles

Even if your new job promises big paychecks and substantial bonuses, you’ll want to understand the costs applicable for your health insurance. If you have a group plan, you’ll want to know what kind of copays or coinsurance expenses will be your responsibility to pay. Ask about deductibles, as well, so you know how much out-of-pocket you can expect to spend before health insurance kicks in to cover costs.

3. Many Companies Are Offering ICHRAs

Group health insurance plans aren’t the only types of coverage out there for businesses. If, on your first day of your new job, the Human Resources manager tells you the company has an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement, you’ll want to ask an entirely different roster of questions. ICHRAs are incredibly popular right now, and it will be helpful for you to familiarize yourself with how they work.

ICHRAs Are Not Group Plans

The new 2020 health reimbursement arrangement for individuals, called an ICHRA, offers businesses the option to provide employees with a monthly allowance of tax-free money so they can buy healthcare insurance that fits their unique needs. Along with provisions for out-of-pocket health care expenses and ACA compliance measures taken by employers in this type of plan (such as providing information about other plans available through the employer), it is one coverage option among many others on the market today which may be more appropriate than traditional group or individual policies offered prior to Obamacare’s implementation.

Finding an ACA Plan

You’ll want to know how and when to go about finding a new ACA plan. There will likely be a timeframe in which you’ll need to enroll in a Marketplace insurance plan. You can then explore resources like W3LL that help you compare plan costs, tax benefits, and enrollment, entirely free. Once enrolled, you can provide your new job with proof of coverage and begin submitting any reimbursement requests.

Know Your Reimbursement Process and Budgets

ICHRAs are customizable, so you’ll want to ask your new employer about reimbursement limits or budgets. Each employee might be allocated a specific dollar amount, for example. You will also want to know the process for how the company wants you to submit receipts or proof of expenses when you’re ready to be reimbursed. Some may have online dashboards for ICHRA tracking, and others may roll reimbursements in with expense reporting or regular payroll.

Starting a new, full-time job can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Just don’t forget to ask about health insurance with your new full-time gig. Taking control of your expenses, healthcare, and insurance will make a good impression. And W3LL is here to help if you find yourself looking for an ACA health insurance plan.


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