It’s time for another Austin-area family medicine 101 class!
Medicine in Motion (MIM) is reminding patients that as the New Year approaches, it’s time to pull out the healthcare plan paperwork to review coverage and assess how much unused insurance benefits remains. Whether it was a self-purchased plan or sponsored by an employer, most people can benefit by taking a few minutes for an insurance plan evaluation.
“Patients can save hundreds of dollars by using their health insurance benefits before the end of the year,” said Dr. Martha Pyron, Austin-area family medicine doctor and owner of Medicine in Motion. “Most insurance plans run on a calendar year, so right now is crunch-time. You’ve worked hard for this healthcare benefit – make sure you take advantage of it.”
Five points to remember for saving money in conjunction with health insurance:
- Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) – This is an account established through employers for employees to place some of their pre-tax dollars into. Unspent FSA money will NOT rollover, so it’s important to utilize those contributions before they’re gone. FSA dollars can be used for annual physicals, as co-payments for doctor visits, prescription refills, eyes exams and much more.
- Deductibles – The deductible is the amount of money that a patient must pay their health provider out of pocket before the insurance company will pay for any services. This fee varies from one plan to another and could be higher if a patient chooses an out-of-network doctor. Deductibles also reset when plans roll over with a new year, so those who have met their deductibles for the current year should attempt to continue or finish treatment before the fees return.
- Premiums – If a patient is paying his or her health insurance premiums every month, they should be using their benefits. Even if there are no signs of problems, patients should always have their annual checkups and exams as a measure of prevention and to detect any early signs of health issues that cannot be detected without a professional healthcare provider.
- Disappearing Benefits – Carefully read through the insurance information provided by the employer and/or insurance company after enrolling to see if any benefits are changing with the New Year. If some are being reduced or outright eliminated, get the most of the current coverage before treatment costs go up.
- Health Problems Can Worsen – By delaying treatment or even a checkup, patients are risking more extensive and expensive treatment in the future. What may be a simple ailment now could turn into a much bigger and costlier health issue later.