Get the Most Out of Your Health Insurance Before the Year Ends

Open enrollment time is upon us and that means you are finding out that premiums, deductibles and co-pays are probably on the rise. In some cases, benefits are shrinking as well. Many new health insurance plans won’t kick in until the new year, though, so that leaves a little more than a month to get the most out of this year’s health insurance benefits while you still can. Take a few minutes and think about what you want or need with regard to your health care. Then see if you can take action to get the most out of your current health plan.

3 Things to Do

Doctor and Dentist Appointments

Now is the time to get in and see your doctor and dentist if you have any niggling problems. Check to see whether you have made your deductible this year. If you have, it is an excellent time to have that strange mole looked at, or even schedule your yearly check-up. Bring your kids in for their flu shots (if you haven’t already) or catch them up if they have fallen behind on other vaccinations.

If they can squeeze you in, get an appointment now, before the co-pay increases, or a higher deductible means you have to pay for the entire visit next year.

This is also a good time to get refills of prescriptions you are running low on. Check the drug plan section of your health insurance, and then get necessary refills. Your doctor can help you get approved for an extra refill. And, while you are seeing your doctor, it doesn’t hurt to ask for free samples.

Flexible Spending Account

One of the downsides of the flexible spending account (FSA) is that it is a “use it or lose it” situation each year. If you still have money left in your FSA, now is the time to go through it. Money in your flexible spending account can be used for vision and dental appointments, expenses, and procedures that may not be covered in your health plan. Additionally, you can use your FSA to pay for the co-pays on your office visits.

You can see a complete list of eligible health care expenses at WageWorks.

Preparing for Next Year

Before you decide on a plan for next year (or keep the same plan again), make certain you are sure that is what you want. Look at the coverage. Is there something missing that you want to add? Is there something extra that you want to remove in order to get a lower premium? You can also consider such items as life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care insurance. Some employers offer good deals on policies that help you better protect yourself and your assets in the future.

Now is also a good time to review the contribution you make to a flexible spending account, as well as a good time to consider a high deductible health insurance plan that can be used in tandem with a Health Savings Account. Unlike a flexible spending account, the Health Savings Account rolls over year to year, so the money is always available for your use in defraying qualifying medical and health care costs.

Understand the impact that a higher deductible or co-pay will have on your budget. You should also check to see what kind of effect higher premiums will have on your paycheck. You will probably need to adjust your budget accordingly, and consider setting aside a little more money — even if you don’t qualify for a Health Savings Account — for health care expenses.



Author

By , on Oct 29, 2012
Miranda Marquit Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

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{One Comment}

  1. With the continuing rise in health care premiums, researching all your options during the open enrollment period is very important. This way, you can choose the health coverage and provider that give you the best value.

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