How to Make the Most of Your Health Insurance
Having health insurance is just the first step in managing your healthcare costs. You also need to understand the basics of your coverage and what you can do to minimize your out-of-pocket expenses. Let’s take a look at how to make the most of your health insurance.
Understand Your Health Insurance Plan … Before You Need it
Diving into the details of your health insurance probably doesn’t sound like much fun. But it’s better to do it when you can take the time to ask questions, rather than experiencing confusion when the time comes to use it. Review all the plan materials you receive at the time you sign up. If there are details you don’t understand, talk with your employer’s benefits coordinator or contact the insurance company directly to clarify things.
Know Your Network
One of the best ways to manage the cost of healthcare is to use providers and facilities that are in-network. Most providers offer a network guide on their website so you can check easily. It’s especially important to verify in-network status for anything that involves a hospital stay, such as surgery or having a baby.
Choose the Right Care Option
Not all emergencies are created equal. Knowing when to go to the emergency room and when to choose a less expensive care option can save you thousands of dollars. Many insurance companies offer 24-hour “ask a nurse” hotlines. These allow you to talk with a registered nurse who can offer suggestions and treatment options. Telemedicine services are also gaining popularity. With this option, you have a Skype consultation with a doctor. And don’t forget about urgent care and quick-clinics; both of which are less expensive than emergency room services.
Make Your Deductible Count
On most plans, your costs for almost everything will go down once you hit your deductible. So when you do, it’s the perfect time to take care of doing the things you’ve been putting off, such as skin cancer screening or eye exams. Of course, details will vary by plan, but just remember that meeting your deductible will mean lower costs over all.
Take Advantage of Extras
Many insurance plans offer extras that contribute to your health and wellness. These can include discounts for gym memberships and fitness classes, weight loss plans, assistance with quitting smoking and more. Some carriers also offer information and assistance with managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis. Whatever your needs are, find out if your plan offers something to help.