This year is quickly coming to a close, making now the perfect opportunity to take stock of your health and well-being as well as your healthcare benefits to ensure you are on the right track for a great year ahead. Here are a few simple yet important things to consider tackling as we wrap up the year:
- Understand your healthcare coverage. You may have just selected new benefits for next year during open enrollment. Now is the time to make sure you understand your new plan. What costs are you responsible for? What is your deductible? What is covered under your health insurance plan? Are your current medications included? These are all important questions to review to ensure you are using your benefits wisely and making informed decisions. Here is some helpful information about understanding health insurance.
- Confirm your providers are still in-network. With the start of a new plan year, it’s important to make sure your doctors are still in your health plan’s network. This can change from year to year, so call your doctor or health plan to confirm before scheduling an appointment to avoid being charged higher out-of-network fees.
- Choose a primary care provider (PCP). While having a primary care provider is necessary for some health plans, having an established relationship with a doctor is important to maintaining good health down the road, regardless of your health plan. A primary care provider can care for the majority of non-emergency needs, understands your health history, and can help manage and treat injuries, illnesses or issues requiring immediate care.
- Schedule preventive screenings. Most health plans are required to cover preventive screenings and immunizations at no cost to you, making the start of a new year the optimal time to take advantage of this opportunity. These screenings can confirm that you are in good health and address any potential issues early. Plus knowing your numbers (such as blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) can help establish a baseline to monitor your health in the months and years ahead. Call your doctor now to schedule your appointment.
- Get your flu shot. If you haven’t been immunized for the flu, it’s not too late, and it is more important this year than ever before. Call your primary care provider or visit your neighborhood pharmacy to get your vaccine today.
- Check prescription alternatives. Ask your doctor about generic drugs and/or enroll in your health plan’s mail-order pharmacy service. Ordering a 90-day supply of maintenance medications can be a real money-saver. Start now to save more next year!
- Plan ahead. Your annual deductible will reset in January, meaning you may have increased out-of-pocket costs before insurance coverage starts. Planning for anticipated expenses is vital, so think ahead about any potential procedures you may have coming up next year so you can budget now. Talk with your doctor about less expensive options, but another great option is to utilize your Health Savings Account (see more below) and plan ahead to avoid surprises.
- Contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA). If you are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, you are eligible to contribute to an HSA. While anytime is a great time to contribute, putting a portion of your year-end bonuses or savings toward this account will pay dividends in the future – these funds are contributed and can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for health expenses, which can help save you a great deal of money, plus they roll over year to year.
- Review your emergency contact information. In the event of a health emergency, it’s critical that first responders know how to contact your friends or family members. It may be helpful to update or add an “In Case of Emergency” or ICE contact in your cell phone to help quickly identify the person you’d like them to contact. For more tips and information on this, read our post on tips to prepare for potential emergencies.
- Be proactive. Take steps to stay healthy and possibly prevent health issues later on, including eating right, exercising, visiting the doctor regularly, and practicing healthy habits.
Adding some or all of these items to your to-do list for the month ahead can help you have a strong start to a healthy new year.