By Scott Tschappat
The HCA Healthcare benefits documentation is 181 pages long. Who has the time to read all the different options and decipher how each one relates to their personal situation? Does anyone even understand what these benefits do for them? How do you know if you are covering yourself or your family the way you want to?
The number of available options can be overwhelming. For instance, there are seven different disability structures depending on length of employment. For the retirement plan, are you taking advantage of a matching contribution? Do you understand the different investment options offered and the underlying risks of each? Health benefit plans come in different tiers with different deductibles. Do you have kids that need braces? Some plans may work in your favor if you have good teeth and bad vision (or vice versa). There are many different ways to structure life insurance, health, dental, and vision plans.
Most people are covered after 75 days of service, but some facilities may begin to offer coverage sooner. Even more confusing is the fact that the start of coverage may be different for each benefit. Domestic partners are covered under this plan, but that stopped as of October 6, 2015, so anyone hired after this date was not offered these benefits for a domestic partner. You must make all elections during the annual enrollment period unless specified family events occur during the year (for example, the birth of a child).
These are just a few examples of why every HCA employee needs a financial advisor who understands the benefits package and can provide clear guidance. We at Acute WealthCare are here to make sense of your benefits and help you maximize them.
Health And Medical Benefits
The HCA plan offers health, dental, vision, and preventative wellness coverage as well as an employee assistance program (EAP) and severance benefits. Precertification for hospital procedures is a must; otherwise, you will pay a $500 penalty. This is highlighted and called out in bold capital letters in the pregnancy section of the plan, which seems to imply that it is commonly overlooked. You can also pay a $500 penalty for an emergency room visit. If you want a private room, be sure to use an HCA facility. Remember that deductibles are only part of your out-of-pocket costs, even when you have satisfied the full amounts.
Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA)
Your FSA is funded with pretax dollars, but you must “use it or lose it.” You can carry a $500 balance over to the next year, and you will forfeit anything above that amount. You can use your flexible savings account to pay for certain medical expenses, and you can also use up to $5,000 of your FSA funds per year to pay for daycare. Health reimbursement plans have been phased out of FSAs. If you still have a health reimbursement plan, make sure to use it before you leave the company, because you will forfeit this money when you terminate employment.
Life And Disability Insurance
Life insurance coverage amounts are based on your annual salary. The HCA plan includes basic coverage, and you can also buy supplemental coverage. If you lose your life in an auto accident, Prudential will pay an extra $25,000 if you were wearing your seat belt and an extra $5,000 if your vehicle is equipped with an airbag.
Short-term and long-term disability is based on years of service. The plan’s long-term disability plan only covers you based on your occupation for two years; after that, you must work any job that you are physically able to perform.
Both life and disability insurance coverage end immediately upon termination of employment. You may be able to extend life insurance coverage if you make other arrangements with Prudential at the time of separation, but the window of opportunity is short.
401(k) Retirement Plans
The 401(k) plan offers various options when it comes to saving for your retirement. We can help you maximize your contributions and also understand the differences between the underlying investments. You are automatically enrolled into the 401(k) plan and may continue to contribute to the plan without any eligibility lapse in the event of a leave of absence. Some facilities offer matching contributions; be sure to take advantage of this additional tax-deferred income if it is available to you.
Know Your Coverage And Costs
We can help you understand the full picture of your out-of-pocket expense each year. As your life and family needs change from year to year, it is important to regularly reevaluate your benefits package, as options change over time. Employees sometimes pay out of pocket unnecessarily because they do not know what is covered and what is not. Did you know that genetic testing may be considered an eligible expense? We are also here to help you in times of turmoil. Certain hardship events can trigger eligibility for benefits offered to you or your dependents, and we can help you understand what options you have.
HCA employees can also take advantage of various elective Core Plus benefits, including auto/home insurance (not offered at all facilities), legal assistance, identity protection, pet insurance, additional short-term disability insurance, and voluntary permanent life insurance. You may be able to purchase additional coverage for yourself and/or your dependents.
Let our Acute WealthCare team help you take advantage of all that is offered. Schedule a 15-minute introductory phone call and let’s have a conversation about how to help you get the most from your HCA benefits.
Scott Tschappat is a wealth advisor at Acute WealthCare, an independent, fee-based comprehensive financial management firm with over 20 years of experience. Scott is committed to helping his healthcare worker clients create a financial plan that brings them peace, security, and dignity. Scott learned the importance of proper financial management and making a plan for the unexpected at a young age when his father passed away suddenly and he watched his mother use the life insurance money wisely to take care of their needs, both present and future. He strives to steward his clients’ money well, as if it were his own mother’s, and help them every step on the journey to their financial future.Scott lives in Highlands Ranch, CO, with his wife, Bridget, a school counselor at All Souls Catholic School, and their two daughters, Sarah and Emily. He loves sports and has been lucky enough to coach both of his daughters’ basketball teams. In the spring and summer, you can find Scott getting his hands dirty gardening and enjoying live music at Red Rocks or another local venue. To learn more about Scott, connect with him on LinkedIn. You can also register for his latest webinar on What We Do & How We Help.