The most frequently talked-about reason for switching to a high-deductible health care plan is the premium savings. But there is also another element to these high-deductible plans that’s highly desirable: rich, useful and comprehensive preventive care benefits.
These services are covered at 100 percent and plan deductibles and HSA dollars don’t apply. So long as you go to an in-network provider and stay within the allowed frequency (some services are annual, etc.), these exceptional benefits are totally free.
Well-baby and well-child preventive care includes vision, hearing and lead exposure screenings as well as a host of free immunizations.
Adult preventive care includes vision, hearing and routine blood and urine screenings. But it also includes “less obvious” free services such as cholesterol and lipid level screenings, blood glucose tests for detecting diabetes, prostate cancer screenings, HIV tests, bone density scans and colonoscopies. There are also breast exams, mammography screenings, pelvic exams, pap tests and contraceptive management for females.
Just always be sure to check in with your doctor first so that you get the coverage to which you’re entitled. Call ahead, give the office your insurance information and ask if the services that interest you are covered in full at that time.
When you schedule a routine office visit, that’s a great opportunity to request additional preventive care services covered under your plan. Just always confirm that those benefits fall under your free preventive care.
Preventive Care Services: What’s In It for Them?
So, why are all of the major carriers offering all these no-charge preventive services with their high-deductible plans? Because they’re counting on these services keeping people healthier and detecting health issues before they become costly catastrophic problems down the road. A healthier America for them translates into fewer insurance claims. A healthier America for you means less time ultimately receiving medical care and a better-conditioned body to live the life you want.
These preventive care services are recommended by everyone from the American Cancer Society to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, but people aren’t utilizing these benefits nearly as much as you’d think.
On one hand, that’s because people aren’t used to services of this breadth and scope being truly 100 percent covered. They expect copays and deductibles and other charges to apply, so they stay away unless it’s absolutely medically necessary.
On the other hand, many people simply aren’t aware they’re entitled to these free preventive services with a high-deductible plan or aren’t clear enough about their benefits to feel confident using them.
We picked up a new client the other day that had super-rich preventive benefits as part of their existing plan, but they had no idea so much was covered for free because their last broker didn’t do any reviews with them. They had fantastic insurance but nobody in the group knew how to utilize it or when they could use it.
That’s why the role of the insurance broker is such a critical part of the process. A good broker is a good partner—reviewing or reminding clients about plan benefits and informing employees exactly how to best utilize their plan.
The goal is that hopefully you’re healthy and you don’t need to use you plan services very often, but when something comes up, you need to know what benefits you’re entitled to. It’s the broker’s role to keep people up to speed on how to best take advantage of their insurance.
Whether it’s on a quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis, our role as brokers is to continuously review with groups what benefits they have. That can be a quick highlight summary or a lunch-and-learn refresher meeting. Reeducating groups on little things such as plan usage plays a big role and goes a long way … and you’d be surprised how many people don’t realize or completely forgot what rich benefits are included and free with their insurance plan.
The more the broker can stay in front of people, the easier it is for those individuals to ask questions and find a comfort level. That’s our job as brokers: to be as available and proactive as is necessary to make sure people understand their benefits. And quite frankly, that’s a lost art in this business.
Remember that with employee benefits, the key word is “benefit.” Don’t hesitate to take advantage of what’s included in your plan.