Understand your health plan coverage so you can get the most out of your plan, stay healthier, and even help save money in 2018.
Fully understanding how your health plan works not only can help reduce your out-of-pocket costs but also avoid surprise bills.
The following tips can help you get the most out of your benefits:
Learn the lingo – Make sure to understand basic health plan terms such as deductible, copay, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximum. Need a refresher course? If so, spend a few minutes to better understand common health insurance terms and your specific plan amounts to help you make more informed decisions.
Know what’s covered – You can usually find your coverage and benefits information on your insurer’s website or in plan documents so you know what’s covered and what’s not. Review this information before you start using your plan and receiving treatment, so you’re not surprised by costs later.
Stay in network – Choosing doctors in your plan’s care provider network will most likely mean you’ll pay less. Also, check out 24/7 telehealth services. “Virtual visits” can help save you time and money by providing convenient access to care for certain medical issues including allergies, bronchitis, and seasonal flu.
Save on medications – Make sure your medications are covered by your plan, and ask your doctor about generics to see if there’s a more affordable and equally effective alternative. Also, getting prescriptions through the mail is often a good cost-saving option. Most plans enable you to order up to a three-month supply of medication you take regularly, sometimes at a discount. Your medication will be delivered right to your home, saving you a trip to the pharmacy.
Shop around and get cost estimates – Several health insurers offer online health care tools and resources that enable you to check on the quality and cost of health care services and care providers before you make appointments. Be sure to double-check the cost with your care provider before getting treatments, as prices can vary significantly for the same procedure within the same city.
Take advantage of wellness programs – Many health plans offer discounts on gym memberships and provide financial incentives, some more than $1,000 per year, for completing health assessments, signing up for health coaching programs, lowering your cholesterol, losing weight, meeting walking goals, or stopping smoking. Incentive-based wellness programs are designed to reward people for making healthier choices and being more engaged in improving their well-being.
Scott Flannery is CEO UnitedHealthcare of North Texas and Oklahoma.