ST. LOUIS--()--The final months can be the most wonderful time of the year! Holidays are great, but can be stressful as we navigate these last months of 2012. Make at least one thing easier on yourself and your family by knowing the “ins and outs” of choosing the right health plan for 2013. The choices we must make to take care of our health, including health benefits, are not going away. In fact, it’s more important now than ever to be a savvy shopper.
More than 77 percent of workers say they’ve made mistakes in their benefit decisions in the past, with 42 percent saying they waste money every year, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Aflac. The most common mistakes include choosing the wrong deductible, not taking advantage of their flexible spending account and passing on coverage like dental and vision that they later wish they had taken, according to the same survey.
As employers continue to see their health costs increase – and try to offset this by passing along more of the cost to their employees – and as insurers add new plan features such as online tools and disease management programs – it’s critical that you do your homework and carefully choose a plan that helps you save money and brings the most value.
So for those purchasing health insurance through an employer where open enrollment time has arrived or is right around the corner, consider the following tips to help you evaluate your choices:
• Do your homework and take advantage of the tools offered to you. For example, your company may offer benefit plan meetings where you can ask questions and compare plan options. A little time invested in this meeting can help you choose the best plan for your family’s needs.
• Examine your family’s past health care spending. The best way to determine a good plan fit is to understand what health care services your family used this year.
• Before continuing on your current plan, read the detail. Many employees will carry over their plan choice from year to year without examining the details – for example, have the co-pays and deductibles increased? Often employers will change these levels as a result of the increasing cost of health care services. It pays to read the detail.
• Prescriptions are one of the most utilized benefits. What coverage is provided by the plans you’re considering? Are your current prescriptions covered and at what level?
• Verify in advance that your physician and hospital are part of the network for the plan you are choosing. This is especially important if you are switching your insurance company or you are switching to a different health plan.
• Take advantage of your health care flexible spending account, if appropriate. Health care flexible spending accounts use pre-tax dollars to help pay health care expenses like co-pays and deductibles but you must carefully estimate and use all the money in these accounts during the course of the year.
• One way employers are able to help keep costs down – for the company and for their employees – is through wellness initiatives. These may include smoking cessation courses, discounted gym memberships, weight management seminars and chronic disease management programs. Determine whether your company or insurance plan offers these types of initiatives and take advantage of them.
Exploring your health benefit options now, during open enrollment, is crucial. It not only helps you save time and money, it can help you lead a healthier lifestyle. And that’s a wonderful thing.
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri
In Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area) Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name for RightCHOICE® Managed Care, Inc. (RIT), Healthy Alliance® Life Insurance Company (HALIC), and HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates administer non-HMO benefits underwritten by HALIC and HMO benefits underwritten by HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates only provide administrative services for self-funded plans and do not underwrite benefits. Independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri is available at www.anthem.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthjoinin, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinIn, or visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin.