It's a shiny new year, and your health insurance has you covered. Preventive care is covered by most plans, which means that you can see a doctor for annual screenings and other services with no out-of-pocket costs.
But most of us will have some medical expenses during the year, and we need to prepare for that. Now is a great time to review what you spent for health care last year, how much to save for this year, and how to get the most value from your coverage all year long.
Knowing what you spent last year on health care can help you budget and save for the coming year. Your claims history is just a few clicks away (sign in and click the Claims link on your Member dashboard), which makes it easy to see what you paid out-of-pocket for routine care last year.
Tip: Find savings by using the Treatment Cost Estimator to compare what you'll pay for routine services at different facilities in your area. That X-ray, MRI or lab test could cost much less than you think. To access the Treatment Cost Estimator, sign in and click the link on your Member dashboard.
If you have a high-deductible plan with a health savings account (HSA), you can save up to $3,350 ($6,650 for family coverage) in pre-tax money (2016). You can use these funds for copays, deductibles, coinsurance and other qualified medical expenses.
Some employers offer a flexible spending account (FSA). FSAs are typically "use it or lose it" by the end of the year, so saving just the right amount is important. Check your employer's FSA to see if there's a roll-over or grace period for spending any funds unused at the end of the year.
Tip: When you do your taxes, check the rules on contributing to your HSA—you may have until April 15 to make catch-up contributions for last year.
Although you have to meet your deductible again at the start of the health plan year (usually January 1), your plan covers in-network preventive care at 100 percent for key services such as annual physicals, screenings for breast, prostate or colon cancer and many other services. (This may not apply to some grandfathered plans in effect since March 23, 2010.)
Tip: When you make the appointment, tell the doctor's office staff that your visit is for preventive care. That lets them know to use the right billing code, so you don't get a bill for services beyond the preventive care.
Health insurance has a language all its own. Deductible, copay, coinsurance, network, formulary—it can be confusing. According to one recent poll, about three-quarters of us can define a deductible, but only about half of us can figure out what we'll pay out-of-pocket for hospital costs based on our copay and coinsurance.
Tip: See the Definitions page for clear explanations of health insurance terms.
As a member of our health plan, you have access to discounts on a wide range of health-related products and services, from vision, dental and hearing to health, fitness and weight management. These aren't part of your insurance coverage. They are special discounts we've negotiated for our members.
Tip: See if any of these Advantages discounts can help you save money.