If you're flummoxed by the array of health insurance and other benefit choices during the open enrollment process at work, you're not alone, according to new research.

Fifty-six percent of employees estimate they waste up to $750 because of mistakes they made in selecting benefits. Twenty-four percent say they chose the wrong level of insurance coverage or picked options they didn't need. Only 16 percent of workers say they feel confident about their choices.

The findings are part of the 2012 Open Enrollment Survey of the Aflac WorkForces Report, conducted in July 2012 for Aflac by Research Now. Aflac markets supplementary and guaranteed-renewable insurance.

Open enrollment season, typically in the fall, is the period when employees sign up for benefits for the next year.

Among the survey findings:

  • Most employees fail to review benefit offerings each year, even though policies often change. Sixty-one percent say they are only sometimes or not at all aware of changes to their policies. Eighty-nine percent say they simply elect the same options every year.
  • Almost half, 47 percent, say their medical expenses rarely or never exceed the cost of their health insurance deductible.
  • Only 16 percent contribute the right amount to flexible spending accounts, which let workers set aside pre-tax money for qualified medical expenses.
  • Sixty-five percent of workers say they are only somewhat prepared or not at all prepared for open enrollment, and 52 percent say their company has not communicated with them about the open enrollment process.

Mistakes are expensive

"Workers cannot afford to be in the dark about benefits options," Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president of corporate services at Aflac, says in a press statement. "Consumers today need every dollar they have, with many clipping coupons and looking for ways to save. It's critical that employees understand their benefits options during open enrollment to ensure that they don't make mistakes that cost them money."

Don't approach the benefit selection process on autopilot. Read the materials. Talk to a human resource professional or insurance representative to understand the options. If you have a choice of plans, compare the portion of premium you would pay for each as well as the amounts for out-of-pocket expenses, including the deductible, co-payments and coinsurance. Finally, read the fine print to make sure the plan you select provides a healthy network of providers and the benefits you and your family need.