2017 Benefits Open Enrollment: Which health plan is the best choice for 'Beth'?

This is the first article in a four-part series to help explain how exploring your medical benefit plan options could save you money.

The 2017 Benefits Open Enrollment period is underway. From now until Nov. 18, Penn State faculty and staff have the annual opportunity to make or change medical and other benefits selections, with all changes and updates taking effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

At the suggestion of faculty and staff, Human Resources is providing “real life” examples of Penn State employees to show how comparing health plans can impact the decision process. While the names have been changed, the medical out-of-pocket expenses and premium contributions are from real Penn State employees.  

“Beth” is the first of four Penn State employee examples illustrating claims and premium expenses that a Penn State employee could expect to pay within both plans. Take some time to review the examples and then go to the 2017 Benefits Open Enrollment microsite to use the comprehensive decision tool to enter individual claims data and other important information, and see which plan may be the best option for you.

Example #1: Beth

Beth is 30 years old, married with two children, is in good health, and makes $80,000 per year. She covers herself and her children but not her husband because he has coverage through his own employer. She is comfortable with paying more of her up-front medical expenses out-of-pocket for the opportunity to pay lower premiums from her paycheck.

Beth sees a chiropractor and takes prescriptions regularly. Her son has had an annual physical, a primary care physician visit, and two brand prescriptions. Her daughter has had an annual physical, a primary care physician visit, and took three generic prescriptions. 

Recommendation after comparison: 

The PPO Savings Plan is recommended for Beth. Although Beth spends more for medical services in the PPO Savings Plan versus the PPO Blue Plan, she is paying three times as much in premium for the PPO Blue Plan than in the PPO Savings Plan. Her total expenses (premium contributions plus total out-of-pocket costs) for the year in the PPO Blue Plan are $3,422 vs. $1,669 in the PPO Savings Plan. However, Beth will receive $800 in HSA (health savings account) seed money from the University if she enrolls in the PPO Savings Plan, further reducing her out-of-pocket expenses.

For additional details of Beth’s real-world example, visit the 2017 Benefits Open Enrollment Guide e-Magazine on the Benefits Open Enrollment website. A separate e-Magazine benefits guide is also provided for members of Teamsters Local 8.

2017 Benefits Open Enrollment period is underway, and comparing health plans can help some employees save money on out-of-pocket expenses and premium contributions. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated November 11, 2016