Taking up health insurance is prudent health and financial decision. Nevertheless, just because you have a health insurance plan doesn’t mean you are necessarily getting the most out of it. Each year, millions of Americans fail to reap the benefits they could from the insurance cover they so faithfully pay for each month.
Health insurance plans are teeming with opportunities to save money while granting you access to quality medical care. Maximizing the benefits of your plan will take deliberate, well-thought-out action. Here are some practical tips to get the most from the health plan you choose. It just might make you start to look forward to the insurance premiums you pay each month.
1. Get Supplemental Coverage
Your health insurance plan likely doesn’t cover every aspect of you and your family’s health. These gaps can sometimes leave your health and finances vulnerable to a wide range of medical expenses. For instance, dental and vision care may not be included in your main plan. Yet these are health issues that are vital to a good quality of everyday life.
A supplemental plan like dental and vision insurance ensures you have coverage for the things you’ll need but aren’t addressed by your main plan. If you are on Medicare, consider taking up a Medicare supplement plan to tackle some of the expenses that will not be paid by Original Medicare.
2. Maintain Records and Scrutinize Bills
The onus of ensuring you don’t pay for anything you don’t have to ultimately rests on you. Approach every interaction you have with your health insurer and health service provider having this in mind. Maintain a detailed record of all bills, correspondence and phone conversations including the relevant dates and times.
Medical billing errors are actually much more common than most people realize. Don’t assume that whatever the health provider or health insurer says is necessarily accurate. By keeping copies of all the relevant documentation, you can later on go back to compare each billing item against the service you received and against the benefits your plan qualifies you for.
3. Engage a Medical Billing Advocate
Medical terminology isn’t something the average person is conversant with. So simply looking at your itemized billing won’t always lead to the discovery of errors. This is more so when you receive a large bill for a surgery or an ER visit. In such situations, working with a medical billing advocate may just be the way to go. It could save you thousands of dollars. The billing advocate has a robust understanding of the complexities of medical billing and will pick up errors that are unnoticeable to the average patient.
Medical billing advocates won’t charge if they evaluate your bill and find everything is as it should be. However, if they do identify a questionable charge that must be reimbursed, they may charge you as much as half of the amount they save you. That may sound exorbitant but considering you were going to go along with the bill as is, it’s worth it because you’ll ultimately pay less.
4. Stick to In-Network Providers
You’ll enjoy the lowest costs for health services when you go to the providers who participate in your plan’s network. Some plans will not cover any visits to out-of-network providers which means you’d have to pay for the entire cost with your own money. The plans that do allow visits to out-of-network doctors have negotiated lower costs with in-network providers so it’s still best to go in-network unless you are not getting the service you need in-network.While staying in-network might force you to change doctors you’ve worked with for years, the cost savings are often worth the disruption.
If the nearest in-network doctor is far from your home, try and bulk up appointments to reduce the number of times you need to do the trip. Also, in line with the need for rigorous documentation mentioned earlier, keep mileage receipts whenever you do a trip to the provider. You’ll need these during the tax season.
5. Seek Preventative Care
Prevention is better than cure. It is a statement most people have heard countless times in their lifetime. Yet, the value of preventative care remains greatly underestimated and therefore underutilized.
It’s understandable though. Hospitals are associated with sickness, injury and painful memories. Staying away is seen as a sign of having good health. This is a potentially costly mistake. Many medical conditions develop over months or years. The earlier they are identified, the less expensive it will be to treat them.
Therefore, make sure you go for regular checkups since these are already covered by your plan. It can save you thousands of dollars you’d otherwise have paid in deductibles, copays or coinsurance.
Health insurance is a good thing. Use these tips to make sure your plan is something that always works for you.