If you’re preparing to add a new member to your family, congratulations! You’re in for years of laughter and love with your new son or daughter. You’re also in for some worry about his or her health and safety — and one of the best ways to alleviate those concerns is with smart employee benefits choices.
Adding someone to your family is often seen as a “qualifying life event,” which is the term used to define events that may require changes to your health coverage and other benefits. Employees who have qualifying events are allowed to make changes to their coverage choices without having to wait for their employer’s open enrollment period.
Making sure your child has health insurance and your family’s financial security is protected will take some of the worries away. So how can you do that? Re-examine your benefits now.
Add Your New Son or Daughter to Your Health Insurance Plan
Before giving birth, decide which parent’s insurance plan you’ll be adding the baby to so the employer can get a jump on the necessary paperwork, says Beth Morley, vice president of operations for Messina Group. “The most obvious reason to choose one over the other is cost. However, it is important to research how well-baby care is covered by each insurer.” These visits should be covered 100 percent by the insurer, but definitions of “well-baby visit” vary, and you’ll want to know what your coverage is before you use it.
“Once the delivery hospital is chosen, the hospital and physician should be precertified with the primary insurance company,” Morley says. While the baby is automatically covered from the moment of birth for 30 days by the primary insurance company, new parents should contact the insurance company within 24 hours of the birth to provide important data such as date and time of birth.
Getting adopted children on your insurance is a little different. “The child can be added from the day they are placed with their new family or the adoption becomes final, whichever date comes first,” Morley says. “It is imperative, though, that the child is added within 30 days of placement or adoption, as that is the ‘special’ enrollment period.” If you miss that window, you will have to wait until open enrollment.
Examine Other Coverage
Parents generally don’t need to add newborns to their dental or vision benefits, Morley says. Unless there’s a condition that would require immediate care, you can wait and add them during your plan’s open enrollment period.
Look at Other Benefits That Affect Your Growing Family
A birth is a qualifying event for other kinds of coverage, just as it is for health insurance, Morley says. And you may want to update policies such as your disability insurance to protect your family if you’re unable to work.
With more people on your health insurance and a renewed focus on staying healthy, it’s a good time to familiarize yourself with your employer’s Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), if they’re offered. With these accounts, employees can save pretax money for health care costs.
Your employer may also offer a dependent care FSA, which allows you to set aside pretax money toward child care expenses. IRS regulations state that your plan has to allow you to make changes within 30 days of a qualifying event, Morley says. But there are limits and conditions on these accounts, so check with HR to find out how to make them work for your family.
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