In my role as the Human Resources Coordinator, I receive a lot of interesting questions from my co-workers around this time of year. You see, it's open enrollment time for our benefits, and we're making the ever-important decisions about medical coverage, dental programs, vision plans, life insurance, and tax savings accounts for 2007.
I'm thankful that our company provides credits toward our plans so that the cost isn't as expensive as if we were buying insurance on our own. And, I've been very pleased since our company switched to our new carriers 3 years ago. I've had no complaints, and all of my previous doctors are members of the plans we picked up.
However, this time of year - no matter how great the coverage is - becomes kind of stressful for some. "What if something happens to me this year? Will my family be OK if I'm no longer here? Have I left enough money for them? What if I am injured sometime this next year and I cannot work? Will I have enough money to survive while I am recuperating? Should I buy life insurance for my spouse? Should I even think about buying life insurance for my children?" Some employees set up appointments so that I can guide them through the internet enrollment form, but sometimes these meetings end up more like counseling sessions than online tutorials.
Of course, I don't have a spouse or children. So, my situation is a little different than 95% of the people here. However, this does make me think about what would happen if I do become ill and can't work... or how I am setting things up for my parents or brother if something were to happen to me. I know, it's seems kind of morbid to think about these types of things as a 33 year old, but I also realize it is important to be wise and carefully think out these choices.
Besides the more deep discussions about topics noted above, there have been some humorous situations with a few co-workers in the last week:
When feeling a little flustered about trying to compare two dental plans, a co-worker looked at me with wide eyes and seriously asked, "What do you think? Do you think I'll need a lot of dental work this year?" (I couldn't help but laugh. I know this co-worker well, but not that well. I have not inspected his teeth.)
I had one co-worker call me 4 times (each voicemail message over 3 minutes long) to tell me 1) that she thinks she lost her personal identification number to log into the enrollment system and she has looked all over her office for it; 2) that she definitely did lose her PIN and wondered how she could receive a new one; 3) that she was profusely apologetic that she lost the PIN and that she's never done that at any other job before; and finally 4) that her letter with her PIN was found right in the middle of her desk, turned over, when she realized that she was writing notes on it while making phone calls.
One co-worker was very mad after recently receiving a letter that his doctor would be leaving the area and closing his practice. So, he used the online medical plan site to look up new doctors in his vicinity. It seems that there are over 130 doctors within a 10 mile radius of his home, but he was very angry that these were all "terrible doctors." Well, after a half hour of listening to his venting, I finally got it out of him that he was looking for two doctors in particular and he was angry that they were not members of our medical plan. Of course, when I looked them up, the system showed that both doctors actually ARE in the plan. He was sure embarrassed, and he apologized that it had been a bad day and that he had taken his anger out on me.
One co-worker came into my office back in October on the day that notices were sent out that enrollment would begin on November 1. He made an appointment for the afternoon of November 15 (the closing day for enrollment) because - in his own words - "Let's be honest. I'm not even going to look at the enrollment before then, and I will put it off until the last minute like I do year after year. So, let's just plan for the last day." Guess there's nothing like being an organized procrastinator!
My thoughts are with all of you who are going through benefits enrollment and especially with the Human Resources staff who are helping employees enroll.