The holidays are well over and everyone and everything is in full swing – work, school and just life in general. But do you remember that thing you did right before the Thanksgiving or Christmas Holidays? Yes, if you were wise, you picked a health insurance plan for the year. It’s one of the most important parts of a solid financial plan. So what now? Just sit around and wait to see if you get sick… no way!
Use these health insurance tips so that you’ll be ready to keep your plan and use it wisely when needed.
1. Pay your premium
You took all that time picking your plan, don’t let it lapse and get cancelled! If it’s with an employer, you’re probably paying through payroll deduction. Easy. If you bought a plan from a broker or the Marketplace be sure to set up an automatic payment option, so you don’t miss a payment. You never know when you’ll really need that coverage.
2. Know your coverage start date
Most people’s plans start on January 1st, but if you were a little late to the party, you may have a plan that starts on February 1st or even March 1st. You can’t use your coverage until the day it starts. Check with your insurer to be sure you know the date.
3. Keep your ID card handy and/or download the App, or take a picture
You’ll get an insurance care (ID card) in the mail – hold on to it! You’ll need to reference that for phone numbers and your policy numbers so that you can get the help you need when you need it. Better yet, download the App. UnitedHealthcare’s Health4me App has tons of cool features, one of which is an electronic ID card. Once you download the App, you’ll never leave home without your ID card. Another option is to take a picture of your ID card (front and back) and store it in your phone.
4. Hellooooooo Nurse
Am I the only one who watch Animaniacs as a kid? With your insurance, you’ve probably got access to a 24/7 nurseline. Having access to a real nurse at anytime is great, especially when you’re not sure if you (or your kid) need to go get treatment, or if hunkering down with some over-the-counter meds is just as good. Find that toll free nurseline number and add it as a contact in your phone. It’s usually on the back of your ID card or in the App (remember tip #3).
5. Use your health insurance plan wisely
This tip could probably be a book in itself, but there’s a couple main things here, then a lot of advanced techniques. First, for the easy stuff.
- Use network providers, as they will definitely be covered by your plan and will be cheaper than out-of-network options if those are available to you.
- Find a primary care physician. Sometimes this isn’t mandatory, but you need to begin building a relationship with a good, trusted doctor through regular preventive care (covered 100% by most plans) so that you can be in tune with your health and have a place to turn when you don’t feel well. You don’t want to be filling out new patient paperwork when you’re sick, yuck!
- Shop around for high quality, low cost providers when you need tests or elective procedures. This will save you lots of money, especially if you are in a plan with a high deductible.
I could go on and on, but the main point for tip #5 is treat purchasing health care like you treat purchasing other expensive things in your life. Stop, use your resources and your brain, and be wise!
Are you going to have a healthy and financially wise year? We Dare You To!
What is your favorite tip? Do you have any more to share?