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Many of us are not part of the Medicare open enrollment or the Affordable Care Act individual open enrollment. This does not mean that we do not have year-end considerations of our own.

First, if we are participants in a Flexible Spending Account we have money that we have had payroll deducted during the year and it needs to be used.  Some FSA plans allow us extra time after our normal year end to use this money, other recently amended plans allow a $500 carryover into the New Year, but we need to address into which group we fall.  If we fail to spend these dollars properly we stand the risk of losing them.

Second, if we are not feeling well and we are postponing treatment into the New Year because we don’t want to start over with deductibles on January 1, take note: most health insurance plans allow insureds to carry deductibles into the New Year for bills incurred during the last quarter of the prior year.  So, please do not postpone that doctor’s visit for the creeping crud that you are suffering.  Let’s address our health conditions before they evolve into much bigger problems.

Third, if this year we failed to take advantage of any premium reductions we can qualify for by meeting the health insurance carrier’s “wellness” program guidelines, now is the time to get the details.  Many carriers offer discounts for participation in very simple health programs or for non-smoker status.  Check to be sure we are taking advantage of all the benefits available to us.

Fourth, check the 2016 provider lists and prescription formularies to see if there will be any changes in the New Year.  Double check with your providers to be sure that they are planning to remain participants in the networks that are part of your benefits program.  This applies to dentists and eye doctors as well as physicians, hospitals and labs. 

Fifth, check to see which urgi-care facility near your home and near your office is a participating provider.  It is best to know where to go before a situation comes up where you are trying to get care in a hurry.

Going into the New Year well informed should reduce unnecessary expenses and the consequences of unprepared decisions.