A new year is a time for change—and your health plan is no different. When signing up for health insurance, you probably focused your attention on the medical side of things and overall cost of care: How much is the deductible? What will my out-of-pocket costs be? What’s covered?
But in reality, there’s so much more to your new health insurance plan than standard medical coverage. Once your new plan kicks in, be sure to take advantage of all the additional benefits it offers throughout the year.
It’s a Friday night and you feel a sinus infection coming on. The doctor’s office is closed for the weekend and you don’t want to risk a wait at urgent care or a pricey visit to the emergency room (ER) for a simple illness that may be nothing. This is when virtual care is a great option. You can use your phone, tablet or laptop to connect with a board-certified doctor wherever and whenever you need care. Often, they’re available through your primary care provider’s office or your insurance company. (Remember: for health emergencies, you should always go to the nearest ER or call 911.)
In addition to being convenient, virtual care is also cost effective—your out of pocket expense is typically $45 or less, while a trip to the emergency room can run $100 or more. Be sure to check with your provider and health plan about available virtual care services as part of your new plan.
Gym memberships and fitness benefits
Many health plans are now offering fitness incentives as a way to promote physical health and wellness among their members. For example, Priority Health employer group and individual members have access to the Active&Fit Direct™ program. This program allows members to sign up for $25-per-month gym memberships. Members can choose from more than 9,000 fitness centers nationwide. Priority Health Medicare Advantage members also have the ability to take advantage of SilverSneakers, which allows members to stay active with a no-cost gym membership or no-cost home fitness programs. Check with your health insurance provider to see what kinds of fitness benefits are included in your plan to help keep you moving throughout the year.
Cost transparency tools
Some insurance companies offer digital tools for members to estimate the price of medical procedures or prescription drugs so they can plan their budgets better.
At Priority Health, members have the ability to research their costs and control out-of-pocket spending with an online tool called Cost Estimator. Cost Estimator shows members what in-network facilities and pharmacies charge for hundreds of services and thousands of prescriptions based on the individual’s plan. The tool doesn’t just show a range in price, but is personalized based on each member’s specific plan benefits.
Many health plans now offer travel assistance to their members. This eliminates the need to purchase additional, and often costly, medical or travel assistance coverage. At Priority Health, members and their dependents have access to Assist America® at no extra cost. It’s available whenever members are traveling more than 100 miles from home or internationally. Coverage includes:
- Medical emergency services:Access to quality medical care including medical referrals, emergency medical evacuation, prescription assistance and more.
- Travel emergency services:Help with lost luggage or documents, legal and interpreter referrals and care of minor children and pets when experiencing a travel emergency. Plus, pre-trip planning services including visa and immunization requirements, security and natural disaster alerts and more.
Multilingual, trained and emergency-dispatch certified assistance coordinators are available to help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with one-touch access through the free app. For stays longer than 90 days, like overseas semesters or sabbaticals, members can pay an additional fee for the expatriate program service.
And starting January 1, 2020, Priority Health Medicare Advantage plans will include an out-of-state travel benefit. This means when you visit any Medicare-participating provider in the U.S. outside of Michigan, you’ll pay in-network costs.
Your health provider likely has travel-related information on their website, so check your plan details to know how to get coverage if you’re planning to leave the state or country in the coming year.
Start your new year off right and take control of your health, budget and wellbeing. Find out what your health insurance covers to make sure you’re taking advantage of everything your plan has to offer.