We get it, health insurance is expensive. The Affordable Care Act now requires every American to have health insurance. Whether you like it or not, you’re paying for a policy. But do you make the most of your health insurance? A lot of people don’t actually take advantage of everything their plans offers. It’s not just about going to the Emergency Room when you need it, your health insurance plan can help you save money while getting (or staying) healthy.

Maximize your benefits with these 7 tips for making the most of your instance and spending less money on medical bills.

  1. Preventative Care:

Part of the Affordable Care Act was the inclusion of preventative medicine. This means that for most insurance plans, going to the doctor for your annual checkup, dental cleanings, and well visits are absolutely positively 100 percent free. These visits are what catch problems early, keep you healthy, and solving problems before they become too serious. Be sure you understand what coverage you receive and make the appointment today.

  1. Wellness Programs:

Most carriers have wellness programs and discounts designed to incentivize members to stay healthy. These programs may include monthly challenges, discounts on health-related items, reduced fees for fitness classes, reimbursement for gym memberships or programs dedicated to specific medical conditions.

  1. Education:

Understanding both your insurance coverage and your own health conditions is the best way to stay on top of your medical needs. Many insurance plans will have free seminars/education for those enrolled on their plans

  1. Use In-Network Providers:

Using a doctor that is outside of your insurance network will cost you big bucks. In-network physicians and hospitals have a pre-negotiated rate with your insurance company (i.e. they are cheaper). If you have a family doctor or local hospital you love, ask them for a referral to another doctor or hospital that is within your network. If you can use an in-network doctor that you are comfortable with, you have found the best of both worlds  

  1. Use TeleMed:

Some plans offer this feature, others have something similar. Telemed is a secure, HIPAA compliant web-portal that provides a medical answering and message management system. This reduces the need for you spend hours at an Instacare or emergency room. By calling your doctor first, you can often get simple medical questions answered in a reasonable amount of time without having to leave your house and pay for urgent care or emergency services.

  1. Utilize HSA/FSA plans:

Use your health savings account to offset the costs associated with your medical expense. Contributions to your HSA are tax free, and lower your total taxable income. This is a great way to save for medical expenses and reduce your tax liability.

  1. Mental Health/Substance Abuse Services:

You may not realize how much coverage you have for mental health counseling, rehab facilities, or substance abuse services. These issues can cause real issues for patients and families. If you are suffering from a condition that is less visible from the outside, talk to your insurance company so you know your options.

make the most of your health insurance tips