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October 23, 2021

Are you getting the most out of your company benefit plan?

If you're lucky to have a decent benefit plan at work, you probably value your health coverage. But are you getting everything you can out of the plan you have?

Corporate health plans increasingly have features that are tied to a 12-month cycle, including annual deductibles, preventive checkups and, in some instance, health-spending accounts.

Employees who don't pay attention to the calendar risk wasting fully covered benefits and paying more than they have to for procedures delayed until the following year.

For example, a dental plan may limit expenses in a calendar year while a vision plan bases its cap on a moving 24-month window.

If your plan benefits do roll over in January, one thing you might want to check is that you aren't missing out on important counselling services or potential stress-relieving perks like massage treatments or physiotherapy. 

Of course, all this assumes full time employment. If you're a contract worker or part-time employee, you may have little or no coverage. Otherwise though, you're usually lookinmg at a 'use it ot lose it' proposition.

There are other things to watch out for as well, warns benefits consultant Bill Zolis -- like eligibility windows. For instance, an employee’s spouse may not be covered until the couple has shared a permanent residence and a common mailing address.

For older families, remember that unmarried children may see benefits come to an end once they turn 22, although full-time students in the family will see the support continue until they turn 25. The exception to the rule will include disabled children who are still considered dependents.

Do you try to maximize your workplace benfits? Have you lost out on benefits you were otherwise entitled to?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...