5 ways to maximize your health coverage benefits

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(BPT) - Understanding the full scope of benefits provided by your health insurance plan can be confusing. From premiums and deductibles to in-network providers and co-pays, there’s a lot to wrap your head around. But if you take some time to understand all the perks, you may find several money-saving benefits.

1. Read your coverage documents every year

Before you can use your plan, you need to know what’s included. At the beginning of each year, set aside a few minutes to look over your summary of benefits, even if you opted for the same plan as last year. It’s possible that your insurance company made some changes that could affect you. It’s also a good idea to check your benefits if your health has changed recently. Components of your plan that you didn’t need before may become important — such as prenatal benefits or coverage for a specific medical specialist.

2. Find a good primary care doctor

An annual physical with a primary care doctor you trust will help you stay up to date on your health. Your primary care doctor keeps track of your medical history and can help you navigate the overall health care system when bigger health concerns arise. If you’re looking for a primary care doctor, ask for referrals from friends or family in your area.

3. Take advantage of preventive care

Your primary care doctor can also help you by flagging the screenings and preventive measures available to keep you healthy. Even if you have a high-deductible plan, most preventive care is included in your coverage without out-of-pocket costs. Diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings are typically covered along with breast cancer screenings and certain immunizations. If you don’t use the benefits, you may be leaving money on the table.

If you have a vision plan, an annual eye exam is available and can help you save up to $200 per year on eye care. VSP® Individual Vision Plans has the largest independent eye doctor network and offers 20% savings on additional glasses, sunglasses and lens enhancements. VSP also partners with Guardian Direct to help you save on dental insurance plans as well.

4. Plan procedures strategically

While you can’t plan for emergencies, there are some procedures you can be strategic about if you have a deductible plan. If you have a bigger procedure you can wait for, such as a joint replacement, you may want to wait until you’ve met your deductible. If you pay into your deductible over the year with health care services, it’s likely your insurance will cover most of your surgery cost. On the other hand, others might choose to schedule more expensive procedures at the beginning of the year to meet their deductible early and have the rest of their health care costs covered throughout the year.

5. Understand your extra perks

Many insurance providers offer extra opportunities for savings that often go unused. For example, your insurer might offer discounts on gym memberships if you meet certain requirements. Some providers also help you save on prescriptions if you use their preferred pharmacy or shop through a specific website.

Follow these tips to stay on top of your health care coverage plan and make the most of your benefits. To learn more about benefit savings, visit VSPdirect.com/Benefits-Savings.