Understanding how to navigate your new health plan

If you’re new to health insurance or exploring a new health plan, it may be overwhelming to know where to start. Understanding how to navigate your coverage — and how it may help you take a proactive approach to your health — is one way to help you take advantage of the benefits.

Consider following these seven steps to help you take charge of your health and get the most out of your plan this year. 

Seven steps to maximizing your health plan

1. Understand key concepts

Review common health insurance terms like premium, deductible and copay. This may help you better understand your plan and how your costs are calculated. Insurance plans differ depending on the providers you see and how much you pay for services. Remember, in-network providers are contracted with your health insurer to provide services at a lower cost — out-of-network providers may come with additional fees. Check for the most up-to-date list of providers for your plan, as these networks may change.

2. Review your ID card

After signing up for health insurance, you’ll receive a member identification card in the mail. This is your proof of health insurance and what health care providers will use to bill for services, so keep it handy for appointments or pharmacy visits. The back of your member ID card will likely include a phone number to contact your insurer if you have questions, and the member website where you can check your benefits, view claims and find a doctor. 

3. Download helpful tools

Check to see if your insurance provider has mobile tools to help you access your plan on the go. If you’re a UnitedHealthcare member, consider downloading the mobile app which allows you to find nearby care options in your network, video chat with doctors and check your progress toward your deductible. Setting up these tools early will help ensure they’re ready to go before you need them. 

4. Know the costs

Take a look at what’s covered by your plan to help you avoid unexpected costs after receiving care. Many plans include services like immunizations, annual wellness visits or mental health screenings. Some services may include a copayment or co-insurance. A few ways to help keep your costs down include shopping around for medical services, knowing where to go for care and opting for generic medications. 

5. Find a primary care doctor

Even if you’re feeling healthy now, consider finding a primary care doctor you can build a relationship with, to help you manage your overall health. Your primary care doctor will address your regular medical needs, like preventive screenings, chronic condition management or non-emergency health issues. They can also refer you to a medical specialist for more specific health conditions. Remember to consider choosing someone who is in-network and who you are comfortable with. 

6. Schedule preventive services

Be proactive by taking advantage of preventive services covered by your insurance, like an annual physical, mental health screening or by getting your flu shot. Scheduling these appointments with your primary care doctor may help prevent health problems before they arise.

7. Explore your prescription coverage

Check to see what’s covered under your prescription drug plan by logging into your health plan’s member portal or by calling the phone number on your ID card. Your plan will show medication costs and coverage, help you locate a network pharmacy and list any requirements, like prior authorization or step therapy. If you want to save a trip to the pharmacy, see if you are eligible to enroll in home delivery by ordering up to a three-month supply of medications you regularly take. 

Getting set up with your new insurance plan — especially at the start of a new year — is one way to help you be proactive when it comes to your health. Remember, health insurance isn’t just for when you’re sick, so take advantage of the benefits that may help you maintain your health and well-being all year long.

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