Fall is a Perfect Time to Understand Your Benefits

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Annual Enrollment, Health Insurance Marketplaces Open

Navigating the costs associated with health insurance can be overwhelming with so much to understand, from copays to deductibles to coinsurance and out-of-pocket costs. What you really want to know is how much it will cost you if your child breaks his arm or your spouse is hospitalized for several days.

This year, weekly premiums are not expected to increase for the majority of employees and some could even see a decrease. These costs depend on a number of factors, including your salary range, coverage elections and your geographic region.

“Lockheed Martin continues to pay the majority of your health coverage costs, which amounts to more than $1.2 billion annually for employees, family members and retirees,” said John Lucas, senior vice president, Human Resources and Communications, in a memo Oct. 9. “Our continued commitment to having the healthiest workforce will help slow the increasing costs.”

Understanding the costs associated with doctor visits and the bill you receive is important to understanding your benefits. Individual decisions can affect the costs associated with health care, and it’s important to understand costs Lockheed Martin can and cannot control, and costs you can control.

The first wave of annual enrollment opened for some Lockheed Martin employees this week, and for others soon after, and the federally-mandated Health Insurance Marketplaces that comply with health care reform opened on Oct. 1. Making an informed choice during annual enrollment may be more daunting than in previous years.

If a Lockheed Martin employee chooses to enroll in a non-Lockheed Martin plan, such as through a Health Insurance Marketplace, Lockheed Martin will not make any contribution to the employee’s premium or out-of-pocket costs incurred under that plan.

In that case, all health care costs will be the employee’s responsibility. For this reason, employees should carefully weigh the costs of a plan purchased through a Marketplace versus a Lockheed Martin plan, and consider all information available to them before making any decisions on coverage.

Annual enrollment is a good time to educate yourself about the terminology and what resources are available to you. Lockheed Martin is committed to employee well-being, which is why we offer valuable programs and resources, such as Wellness Centers, HealthFund incentives, health coaching and more.

Most Americans don’t fully understand health insurance, according to a study published in the Journal of Health Economics. The lack of understanding is compounded this year with key components of the health care reform law going into effect.

Health care reform has been law since 2010, but the opening of Health Insurance Marketplaces this month and the requirement that all Americans have health insurance by Jan. 1 or pay a tax penalty are new for 2014.

The study reports results from two surveys of Americans age 25-64 who have private health insurance. The first survey determined how well health care consumers understand basic terms: deductible, copay, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. Only 14 percent of those surveyed actually understood all four terms, according to the results.

That survey also outlined a scenario for a traditional insurance plan that incorporated the four basic cost elements and detailed a four-day hospital stay that those surveyed should have been able to determine the consumer cost. Only 11 percent were able to figure out the cost.

"It is strange, in my opinion, that the insurance market has evolved so, that so few individuals understand the fundamentals of the medical insurance plans they are insured under," said George Loewenstein, the professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon who led the study, in a release.

  • You can learn more about the LM HealthWorks plan at www.lmhwplan.com.
  • You can learn more about health care reform through the FAQs.
  • Find out more about health care reform through www.HealthCare.gov.