5 tips to help make the most of your health plan benefits

If your goals include healthier living and getting smarter about your money, consider digging into the details of your health plan for ideas that may help on both fronts. 

Many people get a new slate of benefits at the start of the year. Learning about your plan early means you’ll have more time to take advantage of its resources — potentially maximizing the health and financial benefits.

Wondering where to start? Ann Marie O’Brien, R.N., director of health engagement strategies at UnitedHealthcare, provides some considerations to keep in mind.

Tips to make the most of your benefits

1. Understand health insurance concepts

Reviewing common health insurance lingo may help you better understand how costs are calculated. Take, for example, terms like “in-network” and “out-of-network.” In-network providers are contracted with your health insurer to provide services at a lower price. Out-of-network providers may be more expensive and lead to higher “out-of-pocket costs” — another term to know. 

If you need a refresher on vocabulary, check out this 2 minute video on health care’s most-used terms.

2. Check your behavioral health coverage

Taking care of mental health is important to overall well-being because your emotional frame of mind may impact your physical health. If you’re struggling, treatment may help you feel better and live a healthier life.

Insurers like UnitedHealthcare offer behavioral health care programs for help with substance useeating disorders, stress, anxietydepression and more. 

3. Take advantage of virtual care visits

Virtual visits for health care, also known as telehealth, have become an increasingly popular choice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual care connects you with a health care provider via a smartphone, tablet or personal computer for everything from urgent care concerns to mental health and specialty care services. This may be an easier, more affordable way to talk to your doctor about common health questions.

4. Explore your options for wellness programs

You may be eligible for incentive-based wellness programs designed to reward healthier choices. Many benefit plans now offer discounts and other incentives for lowering cholesterol, avoiding nicotine, signing up for online health coaching or working out.

5. Review your prescription coverage

You can check to see which of your prescriptions are covered under your plan by logging into your online member portal or calling the number on your ID card. It may also be helpful to ask about discounts and generic medication options. Generics contain the same active ingredients as their brand-name counterparts but may be cheaper.

You may also be able to save money by filling your prescriptions at a participating network pharmacy or by using home delivery by mail.

Once you’ve learned the ins and outs of your new health plan, continue being proactive by taking advantage of preventive care services, such as annual check-ups, health screenings and immunizations, which are generally covered by most health plans.

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