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8 Strategies to Make the Most of Your Benefits

Business Wire

September 30, 2009

benefits

With the possibility of health care reform on the horizon, Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting and outsourcing company, finds that most U.S. employers are taking a “wait and see” approach and forgoing significant overhauls to their benefits plans in 2010. As a result, employees can expect to see few major changes to their benefits plans when they enroll this year. Still, as health care costs continue to rise, Hewitt strongly urges workers to take an active role in choosing their health care and retirement plan options this enrollment season.

According to Hewitt data, just 40 percent of employees actively chose their benefits last year, which is consistent with previous years. In 2010, health care costs are expected to rise 6.0 percent to $9,120, up from $8,607 in 2009. At the same time, employees’ share of that cost, including premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, is expected to rise 10 percent to $4,023, up from $3,656 in 2009. With the average U.S. worker seeing just a 1.8 percent salary increase in 2009”the lowest in 33 years”it’s more important than ever for employees to make sure they use their benefits dollars wisely.

“It’s imperative for workers to understand that ˜not making major changes’ doesn’t mean ˜I don’t have to do anything different this year,’” says Sara Taylor, Hewitt’s health and welfare strategy leader. “History tells us that most workers”even during a significant economic downturn”default to their previous year’s benefits. In doing so, they may be losing out on a huge opportunity to save money and fully maximize the benefits available to them. And in today’s economy, every dollar counts.”

To help workers make the most of their benefits dollars, Hewitt offers the following tips to employees this enrollment season:

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