How to Make the Most of Your Health Benefits Before the End of the Year
As we look forward to the start of a new year, save yourself a serious amount of money by taking a look at where you stand with your health benefits. Many insurance benefits start fresh at the beginning of the new year, so by using some strategy and planning, a number of our patients find ways to maximize those benefits. Here are some tips to consider as we approach the end of the year:
Use Your FSA funds
Do you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) as part of your employer’s health plan? These are accounts that allow you to make pre-tax contributions and then get reimbursed from these funds for qualifying medical expenses. If you do have an FSA, you should know that the funds in these accounts are of the “use it or lose it” variety.
You must file a claim for reimbursement before the year ends—or the funds will be gone. Think about what out-of-pocket medical expenses you’ve had this year, and if you haven’t claimed them from your FSA yet, do so now. Most medical-related expenses qualify, including prescription drugs, vaccines, co-pays, and medical supplies.
Take Advantage of Preventative Services
Many health insurance plans cover things such as annual physicals, mammograms, dental cleanings and annual eye exams at a relatively low out-of-pocket cost. Now is a wonderful time to get these preventative visits in. If these check-ups turn up the need for additional procedures or treatments, get those taken care of in January. This will help you meet your deductible for the next year early on.
Hold Off on Non-Emergency Procedures
Especially if you haven’t yet met your deductible for the current year, it’s worth waiting until January to go ahead with any non-emergency medical procedures. By waiting, you can put the cost of these procedures toward your new year's deductible immediately. Any costs later in the year are more likely to end up being fully covered by your insurance.
Know Your Plan
Read over the information provided by your health plan or your employer’s human resources office when you completed open enrollment for the new year. Often, health plans change from year to year, with benefits being added or removed. If you’re going to lose any benefits in this year, take advantage while you still have them—and schedule those appointments now. Likewise, if something will be newly covered in the following year that isn’t currently, hold off on it if you can.