Health Advocate Blog

Make your health a priority this year

Happy 2024! With the holiday hustle and bustle behind us, the start of a new year is a great time to get refocused on your health and well-being. These tips can help you be proactive and prepared, maximize your health benefits, and save money so you have your healthiest, happiest year yet!

Be proactive and prepared!

Update your wallet

If your health insurance changed, make sure you received your new insurance card and that you add it to your wallet. You may or may not receive cards for your dental and/or vision benefits, but it’s a good idea to write down any important information like insurance carriers and plan ID numbers and tuck those in your wallet, too. If an emergency arises, one thing you won’t have to stress about is where to find this information!

Update your phone

Plus, review your emergency contact information and update it if necessary. 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.

Maximize your health benefits

Make sure you understand your healthcare coverage

Before scheduling doctor appointments or picking up prescriptions, be sure that you understand your health plan’s benefits and the costs associated with them—this will help you avoid unwelcome surprises.

If you don’t already have one, create a file (whether digital or hard copy) of benefits-related documents so you always have this information handy. Review the information in this paperwork to make sure you understand things like:

  • What costs are you responsible for?
  • What is your deductible?
  • What services and medications are covered under your health insurance plan?

Choose a primary care provider (PCP), or make sure your current one is still in-network.

Having an established relationship with a doctor can help you maintain good health for years to come. A primary care provider can care for the majority of your non-emergency needs, understands your health history, and can help manage and treat injuries, illnesses or issues requiring immediate care.

Especially if your insurance plan has changed from last year, it’s important to make sure your doctors are still in your health plan’s network. Call your doctor or health plan to confirm this before scheduling an appointment to avoid being charged higher out-of-network fees.

If you don’t have a primary care provider yet, visit your insurance carrier’s website to find one who’s in network.

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. 

Look into ways to save money

Take advantage of all your employer-provided benefits

Many companies offer wellness programs, employee assistance programs, gym and fitness center subsidies, and other healthy benefits. Rather than paying for these things out of your pocket, check your company benefits guide to find out if you already have access to these types of services at low or no cost through your employer.

If available to you, set up your HSA

If you are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, you are eligible to contribute to an HSA. Putting a portion of your 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.

Save money on medications

Find out if there are any ways you can save money on your prescriptions. 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!

Don’t leave money on the table

If your employer offers a 401K or other retirement savings program, especially if they offer matching, this is something to take advantage of if it is financially feasible for you. For example, if your employer says they’ll match your 401K contributions up to 5%, it’s wise to contribute at least 5% to your 401K so that you get the matching funds. Not only will you be socking savings away for your future, but getting those matching funds is like getting free money!