Health Advocate Blog

Making the most of your employer-provided benefits

Your employer-provided benefits are a great asset to your financial wellness as they provide you the opportunity to join programs and services that can protect you, your family and your financial future at reduced cost. If your employer offers you some or all of these valuable opportunities, take advantage of those that may be beneficial to you!

Health insurance

Your health is your greatest wealth. Protecting your health with insurance coverage that allows you to seek appropriate and affordable care is necessary and mutually beneficial for your wallet. It is critical that you make a wise decision when choosing a health insurance plan as it may influence your budget for an entire year! You will have both the expense of your premium, and the copays and/or bills that are your responsibility after the insurance company pays their portion.

Other insurance policies

No one likes to think about crisis situations, but being prepared can help protect your financial wellness by preventing financial hardship. In addition to health insurance, many employers offer policies that can help with specific issues–for example, hospital indemnity plans, cancer and/or critical illness insurance, and accident insurance. These can help with costs outside of those covered by your health plan. Moreover, should these issues result in disability or death, many employers provide short-term disability, long-term disability and life insurance coverage.

Spending accounts

Your employer may offer spending accounts that can help you allocate funds for expenses and help you save money in case you need it. Not all spending accounts are the same, so it is important to understand the differences in order to make the best decision for your situation. A benefit to utilizing your employer-provided spending accounts is that they can help lower your taxable income. Examples of spending accounts that may be available to you include:

  • Health Savings Account
  • Flexible Spending Account
  • Health Reimbursement Account
  • Dependence Care Account

Retirement accounts

Retirement—isn’t it what we are all working toward? Being prepared for retirement is imperative for financial wellness, especially in your senior years. Many employers offer opportunities for their employees to save money toward their retirement and may also contribute toward that goal.

  • Pensions: This type of retirement program is not as common as it once was, especially in the private sector. A pension is a retirement account that is funded and managed by the employer.
  • 401(k) or 403(b): With the decline of pensions has come the rise of 401(k) and 403(b) plans. The two plans are very similar; the major difference is the employer. If you work for a for-profit company, you may be eligible for a 401(k). If you work for a non-profit or tax-exempt organization, you may be eligible for a 403(b). This type of plan puts you in charge of your retirement savings.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

EAP offers short-term help for issues like mental illness, stress, anxiety, substance abuse/addiction, work-related problems, family-related problems and more. They can make referrals for long-term care, such as counseling, when appropriate. Benefits for participating in an EAP include handling personal issues at a discounted rate or for free, in hopes that you become happier, less stressed, and more productive.

Wellness program

Over 60 percent of employers offer wellness programs at work. Yet only about 40 percent of employees take advantage of this benefit. These programs provide support and resources to help you reach your goals. Here are some reasons you should participate:

  • Learn more about your own personal health and important health topics
  • Track your progress with online health trackers and fitness devices
  • Participate to earn rewards that your employer may be offering for participation.
  • Access professional resources and support for FREE – The resources provided by your company’s wellness program may cost you big bucks if you were to pay for the services on your own.

Be sure to review your benefits paperwork or contact your HR department to confirm exactly what resources may be available to you.