The end of the year is coming fast, and the new one is right on its heels. You have a lot to do in these short weeks and plenty of things to think about.
One of the most important late year considerations involves your health care and health insurance coverage. Whether you get your health insurance through Medicare, your employer or buy it on your own, you need to plan carefully for the coming year. Here are some critical steps to take now, before time runs out.
Gather Your Receipts
If you have a flexible spending account through your employer or another type of reimbursement account, now is the time to gather your receipts and submit your final claims. You only have a limited window to submit your FSA paperwork, so make sure you know the deadlines and abide by them.
You can also make the most of your flexible spending account by taking a trip to the drug store or doctor's office. Making those final visits now will allow you to use up the money left in your FSA, so you do not leave any cash on the table.
Review Your Health Insurance Choices for the Coming Year
Whether you get your health insurance coverage from your employer or buy it on your own, open enrollment season is an essential time of year. Now is the time to review your options for the coming year, so take your time and get it right. After all, you will be living with your decision for the next 12 months.
When reviewing health insurance options, be sure to look beyond the monthly premiums. A low premium may not be a bargain if you are stuck with thousands of dollars in copayments, deductibles, and unreimbursed expenses.
Fund Your HSA
If you have not already done so, consider opening a health savings account, or HSA. If you have a high-deductible health plan, you can contribute pre-tax money to the plan, giving you immediate tax savings and the opportunity for tax-free growth. The money you take out of your HSA is also free of taxes as long as you use it for approved medical expenses.
If you already have a health savings account, now is the time to make your annual contribution. When you make that contribution, you can get an immediate tax break and a future filled with essential benefits.
Anticipate Your Income
If you get your health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace, the net amount you pay is closely tied to your income. The plan provides generous subsidies for low-income and middle-income individuals and families, but it is not always easy to predict how much you will make in the coming year. Now is the time to review your current income and make some educated guesses about how much you expect to earn in the year to come.
Review Your Past Health Care Expenses
If you want to know how much you might spend on health care in the year to come, you can start by reviewing how much you have spent thus far. While you cannot predict future expenses with certainty, knowing how much you are currently spending can give you a good idea of your future health care needs. Now is the time to review those costs -- it will make picking the right plan easier.
You have a lot of decisions to make before the old year comes to an end, and now is the time to get started. From picking out a new health insurance plan to using up the money in your FSA, the moves you make now could positively impact your health, and your wealth, in the year to come.
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