Knowing & Understanding Your Healthcare Benefits

I’ve talked about self-care recently, and what could be more related to your self-care than your health care?

It’s that time of year where employers give you the opportunity to revamp your health care policy. Your options are laid out before you, but do you even understand what they really are? Is it hard for you to make decisions regarding your health care options? As someone who is currently not insured, (GASP!) I am truly envious of those who are able to make these choices right now. Having a job and employer that offers benefits is a far bigger blessing than so many realize, but… I can still help you. I have a pretty good understanding of the way some of these things work, from many years of selecting my own family’s health care options and having been previously licensed in life and health insurance, I hope I can give you some good pointers! I also just read this article: “The Power of an Hour: Planning Next Year’s Health Benefits in 60 Minutes or Less“, and I think I picked up a thing or two.

Tip Number 1: Read the information they send home with you. Don’t just let it sit on your desk or in a pile by the kids school papers. Read the information they have supplied you and do your best to make sense of the options they present. If you don’t read it, you aren’t even giving yourself a shot at making your own educated decision.

Tip Number 2: Know the jargon: learn what a FSA is ( I don’t even really understand those honestly), understand the words deductible, co-pay and lifetime max. Know what the out-of-pocket max is and if it includes your deductible or not, this matters!

Tip Number 3: Ask for help. Don’t let fear of feeling silly keep you from asking your human resources department for some help and advice. Just like the things we hear all of the time about asking for directions… same concept, ask for help. You will be surprised how layman’s terms can really help clarify some of these options and confusing aspects of health insurance.

Tip Number 4: Understand your prescription coverage. Is there any? What are the co-pays? How  much can you save by using mail order? Can you save a boatload of money by going generic or is going generic even an option for your medications? Make sure to check that out with your pharmacist before getting too excited!

Tip Number 5: Use the online tools provided. Aetna’s Be Smart About Your Health site offers several helpful online tools, like this Health Insurance 101 glossary of terms and a Health Benefits Priorities Tool that will help you distinguish what parts of your health plan are the most important for you and your family. Making use of the tools you are provided makes you one savvy health care shopper!

This is a daunting task for many and there are plenty of things to learn beyond what I have shared, but, remember, having health insurance is the key thing, deciding on what is going to be best for your family and your budget comes next. With tools like those mentioned above, you can easily learn more about the precarious project.

Educate yourself, empower yourself.

*I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Aetna blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 Target gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.*


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