Americans spend thousands of dollars on healthcare costs each year, but just having health insurance isn’t enough. To maximize your health insurance plan, you need to utilize its benefits effectively. With dollars flying out of your pocket for your insurance premium, co-pays, out-of-pocket costs, and prescription drugs, it’s important that you get the most for your money.
Be an active, proactive healthcare consumer, advises Mark Cowell, manager of consumer marketing for GoHealth, an online and offline resource that helps individuals to find health insurance plans.
“Once you purchase the plan, you have to use the coverage wisely, and that’s something that’s really important. When you’re looking at your healthcare bills, you want to be sure you are not spending money where you don’t need to be,” he says.
“A big part of being a smart healthcare consumer is being a very curious healthcare consumer,” he says. “Ask your doctor a lot of questions and make sure that the procedures that they’re providing for you are actually necessary.”
It’s important to pay close attention to your healthcare bills, says Cheryl Fish-Parcham, deputy director of health policy for Families USA, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to promote high-quality, affordable healthcare.
“Healthcare bills often include errors,” she warns. “Perhaps your health plan did not understand why a service was necessary, and so it did not reimburse for that care. Or perhaps the provider did not properly code or record an expense or payment. You should try to resolve these problems as soon as possible.”
The errors can be expensive, so make sure to stay on top of your bills.
“If you think your healthcare provider made a mistake, talk to the provider’s billing office and document the outcome in writing,” Fish-Parcham says. “If the erroneous bill has gone to collections, be sure to request a copy of your credit report and ask that any errors on it also be corrected.”
Everyone from the receptionist at your doctor’s office to the pharmacist to the insurance adjustor can make mistakes. Be an informed consumer and stay on top of your healthcare coverage and expenses. Come back tomorrow for more ways to get the most out of your health insurance plan.
A Chicago-based writer and editor, Eve Becker writes about personal finance, health and other topics. She is a former managing editor of Tribune Media Services.