It’s the end of 2012, and it is time to make the most of your health care plan
Many of you may have put money aside in a health care plan and it needs to be used by the end of the year or you will lose it. Others have benefits that were not used but do not renew if they are not used by the end of the year. Still others may have met their yearly deductible which renews at the start of the new year.
The Wall Street Journal published this thougtful article on how you should evaluate your healthcare plan at the end of the year. Check it out here
With little more than a month left in 2012, it’s the time to make the most of your health care.
Most health insurance plans run on a calendar-year schedule. They reset in the New Year, meaning that’s when you can expect to see any changes you might have elected to your coverage.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans whose health-insurance plan features a deductible, you likely have hit the limit for this year. That means any care you get now will cost you less out of pocket.
“If you have met your deductible, seek out services [your plan] might pay for from the first dollar,” says Barry Schilmeister, a partner in the health and benefits business of consulting firm Mercer.
Some examples Mr. Schilmeister cites are having blood work done, dental cleanings, wart removal, getting benign polyps removed and hernia repair—all visits to doctors that he calls “discretionary but wise.”
If you’ve been putting off a surgical procedure—say, a hip or knee replacement—try to schedule one before the end of the year.
Mr. Schilmeister cautions, though, that having met your deductible doesn’t always mean you will be in the clear of costs. Many plans still require copayments for services.
In addition, preventive care such as mammograms, some vaccines, smoking cessation programs and screenings for alcohol abuse, depression and cholesterol are now covered under most insurance plans, thanks to the health-care law. So you don’t need to put off such procedures until year-end if you haven’t yet satisfied your deductible.
If you have a balance in your flexible spending account, or FSA—which lets you use pretax dollars to pay for qualifying medical expenses—now is the time to start thinking about ways to use it up. (A health savings account that’s attached to a high-deductible health plan is different. Money in those accounts doesn’t expire and can be carried over to future years. Make sure you know which account you have.)
Eyeglasses and contact lenses are big-ticket items that can be paid for out of an FSA, says Mr. Schilmeister. Over-the-counter medications can be reimbursed through the account with a doctor’s prescription. See the Internal Revenue Servicewebsite for a list of qualifying purchases and services.