By: 8 October 2020

It is that time of year again.  Pumpkin spice, apple orchards, haunted houses, football, and…3M open enrollment!  Well, maybe open enrollment did not make your Top 5 List, but it began on October 7th and closes October 23rd.  3M provides an excellent guide to help you make decisions.  We will walk you through the high points and factors to consider, so you get the most out of your 2021 benefits.   

Changes from last year

With COVID-19 and all the new terrain that has come with it, 3M has tried to simplify your life by not introducing too many new features.  Noteworthy changes include increased cost of medical premiums (due to the rising costs of healthcare), decreased additional and spouse life insurance premiums, and 100% coverage of standard progressive lenses under the VSP+ Plan.

Who is eligible?

3M employees, spouses, eligible dependents, and domestic partners.

Decisions to Make

Medical Insurance – Which plan is right for you?

3M provides three medical insurance plan options. 

The Plans:

  • Choice Advantage – Smallest *premium; Highest **deductible
  • Prime Advantage – Medium Premium; Medium deductible
  • Basic PPO – Highest premium; lowest deductible

Questions to consider when selecting:

  1. Do you or your family members have any chronic conditions or medications that are taken each year?
  2. Do you anticipate having higher than usual expenses in the coming year due to childbirth, surgery, or a recent health diagnosis?
  3. Would you prefer to pay a higher upfront premium and have lower out of pocket expenses?  Or would you rather pay lower premiums, but potentially have higher out of pocket expenses?
  4. Can you estimate the amount to put into a flexible spending account with some accuracy or would you prefer the flexibility of a health saving account to fund out of pocket expenses?
  5. If choosing one of the Advantage Plans, can you afford to fund a health savings account to pay for out of pocket costs before reaching your deductible?

The Choice Advantage and Prime Advantage Plans (otherwise known as the Advantage Plans) are generally best suited for those who expect lower medical expenses during the year.  For those who expect higher medical expenses, the Basic PPO plan could be a better option.

For additional information, see 3M’s People Like Me guide available in the annual enrollment section of your 3M benefits login. It shows examples of what someone in your shoes might select.  

HSA (Health Savings Account) vs. FSA (Flexible Spending Account)

Health Savings Account (HSA)

  • Can participate if enrolled in one of the Advantage Plans
  • Tax advantaged – Contributions through payroll are federal, state, Social Security, and Medicare tax-free!
  • 3M contributes $600 (employee) and $1,200 (family) – You must re-enroll each year to receive 3M‘s contribution!
  • Leftover money carries over to the next year
  • Maximum 2021 contribution is $3,600 (employee) and $7,200 (family).  Do not forget to factor in 3M’s contribution and if age 55+ an extra $1,000 contribution is allowed.
  • See our blog post for discussion on how to best utilize this account

Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Health Care

  • Can participate if enrolled in Basic PPO or not enrolled in 3M health plan and not covered under a high deductible plan.
  • Tax advantaged – Again, contributions through payroll are federal, state, Social Security, and Medicare tax-free
  • 3M does not contribute
  • Use it or lose it – At the end of the year, anything not spent is lost, so estimate your out of pocket 2021 expenses and do not contribute more than that.  Note: you have until March 15th of the subsequent year to submit expenses for prior year’s reimbursement.
  • Maximum 2021 contribution is $2,750

Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Dependent Care

An FSA for dependent care allows you to pay for childcare costs with tax-free dollars.  If you know you will incur these costs, using this account to set aside money is the most tax efficient way to do so. 

Note: those with annual compensation in excess of $130,000 may not be able to contribute the full $5,000/year.  Visit Your Benefits Rewards to determine your contribution amount.

Spousal/Partner Charge

If you have a spouse who plans to enroll in a 3M medical plan, you should be aware that there is an extra charge of $211/month (or $2,532/year) if your spouse is eligible for coverage via a current/past employer.  If not offered employer-provided coverage or unemployed, this fee is waived. 

Tobacco Free Discount/Healthy Living Credit

Tobacco Free Discount – To be eligible for the tobacco free discount, you need to recertify every year.  You are then eligible to receive lower premiums on the 3M Medical plan ($30/month for employees plus $30/month for all covered dependents), additional life, and critical illness insurance.

3M Healthy Living Credit – After completing online assessments, employees are eligible for a $50/month credit; enrolled spouses/partners are eligible for $25/month.

Dental – Don’t forget to floss!

However, even if you do forget to floss, 3M dental insurance has got your costs covered—at least part of them. 

There are three plans.  The only difference is how much 3M will pay towards your annual costs: $500, $1,500, or $2,500.  The more 3M is obliged to cover, the higher the premiums.  Estimate how much you expect to spend on dental treatment over the next 12 months and then select accordingly.


  • By enrolling in a 3M medical plan, you automatically receive the Routine Vision Feature, meaning you pay $15 (copay) for an in-network eye exam.
  • By enrolling in the Vision Service Plan+ (VSP+), you can receive $150 towards the cost of glasses/contacts purchased from an in-network provider.

Life Insurance

3M provides 1x salary coverage at no cost to employees and offers the opportunity to increase coverage during open enrollment.  This year, the premiums have decreased from prior years so take a close look at the new amount. 

Although it may be easy to select an additional multiple of salary coverage, if you are in good health, you typically will pay higher premiums through a group coverage plan than getting the same coverage outside of 3M.

We can help you to determine the right amount of coverage your family needs and consider lower-cost alternatives.  If you do not think you will have an alternative in place by January 1, 2021, make sure to elect your typical multiple of salary coverage.   You can stop the coverage at any time during the year.

Other Benefits

  • Legal – For $17.75/month ($213/year), you can have access to assistance with Estate Planning, Family Law, Elder Law, etc.
  • Identity Theft – For a similar fee, you can receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses and legal fees.
  • Pet Insurance – For our canine/feline friends, you can pay premiums for veterinary bills evenly over the course of the year, limiting exposure to one-time, big expenses.
  • Critical Care – By paying a monthly premium, you can receive a lump-sum payment if an unexpected illness occurs.  Note: this should not be considered a replacement for an emergency fund.

What happens if you do nothing?

You will have the same medical, dental, and vision plans as last year.  Moreover, you will have the same life, critical illness, and accident insurance.

However, for the medical plan, critical illness, and additional life insurance, you will not receive the Tobacco-Free discount, so your premiums will most likely increase!

For the Health Savings Account, you will not receive a 3M contribution and your payroll deduction will default to $0.  For the Flexible Spending Account, you will not participate.

In other words, do not forget to sign up!

When can you change coverage during the year?

Unless you have a qualifying event—marriage, divorce, new baby, death, spouse loss of coverage—you will not be able to change your medical, dental, or vision plan until the next enrollment period.  You can add or cancel life insurance mid-year, but you might need to take additional steps.

Important dates

Enrollment began October 7th and ends on October 23rd.  Elections take effect on January 1, 2021.  If you have already submitted your selections, but are having second thoughts, you can still make changes by October 23rd.

Last thoughts

While Open Enrollment might not be as fun as a haunted house or as entertaining as a football game, it is a terrific opportunity for you to take advantage of the benefits that 3M offers.

We want you to feel confident in the financial decisions you are making for open enrollment.  Please reach out if you would like additional assistance on how certain benefits apply to your unique financial situation.  As always, it is our pleasure to serve you.


*Premium – the amount of money you pay to participate in a plan

**Deductible – the amount of money you pay for medical expenses before insurance kicks-in and helps you pay.

Author Image

Paula Price, CPA, MBT, CFP®

Certified Public Accountant
Certified Financial Planner®
Master of Business - Taxation

For information regarding our blog disclosures, click here.

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