Avoid these 5 common health insurance mistakes

When it comes to medical coverage, no one wants to make a costly error. Taking time to understand your health care coverage and create an action plan for when you need care can help you make choices that positively impact your health — and your finances. 

To help prevent paying more than necessary, here are five common health insurance mistakes to avoid:

1. Not having a plan for needed care

Most medical injuries tend to happen close to home so having a plan in place before it’s needed may be helpful. When a health need pops up, a lack of planning may result in a costly bill – for example, rushing to the ER for non-emergency conditions. In fact, roughly 18 million visits to the ER are avoidable each year and could be handled at urgent care clinics, a virtual visit or through your primary care doctor. Take the time now, when you’re healthy, to understand your health options so you’re ready before you need them. Use this guide to help you know where to seek care for certain conditions.

2. Receiving out-of-network care

When seeking care, make sure your doctor is in your health insurance network. Seeing an in-network provider (doctor, hospital) will typically save you money because your insurance carrier has negotiated discounted prices. If you see an out-of-network provider, your insurance may not cover any of those costs. If you are a UnitedHealthcare member, find an in-network provider by signing into your health plan.

Virtual care may also be a convenient and cost-effective option to treat non-emergency medical conditions, like the flu, common cold, pink eye or rashes. It’ll allow you to talk to an in-network doctor from your mobile device, tablet or computer, from the comfort of home.

3. Not knowing what’s covered

Most preventive care services, like annual exams, are covered by insurance plans when performed by a doctor or provider in your plan’s network. Experimental treatments are often not covered by insurance. You can call the number on your health plan ID card to confirm your treatment will be covered before you see your doctor.

4. Thinking name brand is always better

People often think more expensive equals better, but that isn’t the case when it comes to prescription drugs. Generic medications often are more affordable than trademarked drugs and have the same ingredients, usage and safety as their brand-name equivalents. They’ve undergone rigorous FDA testing and approval. If you’re unsure, ask your health care provider about your options.

5. Forgetting to comparison shop

When it comes to shopping for big purchases, you likely look for the best deal by comparing cost and quality. Why not have that same mindset when it comes to your health care? Public websites can give you access to market-average prices for hundreds of medical services in cities nationwide. Health care quality and cost varies by city, so comparison shopping may help you achieve lower out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Some health plans, including UnitedHealthcare, provide online and mobile resources that offer customized estimates based on actual contracted rates with health care providers and facilities.

Learn more tips on how to help get the most out of your benefits.

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