Health insurance may not be the sexiest New Year’s resolution subject, but thinking about it could be just as important as vowing to drop a few pounds or quit smoking. It could be very beneficial to your fiscal health in 2016 if you make a few promises to yourself.
Get familiar with your coverage
Know the limits of your insurance before you start using it. No one wants to begin the year with a nasty case of sticker shock from a steeper-than-expected doctor’s bill. The particulars of your plan may have changed compared with last year, and perhaps you missed the letter or e-mail from your employer or insurer.
Shop for care
Many employers and insurers believe that health care costs can be controlled better if providers are forced to compete for your business. Insurers are providing online tools that let patients compare prices and quality measurements for a wide range of nonemergency care. Doing that could save hundreds of dollars on an outpatient procedure for people with high-deductible plans.
Try something new
Telemedicine is supposed to be all the rage in 2016, with big insurers like UnitedHealth Group Inc. expanding coverage and the drugstore chain Walgreens pushing a smartphone app that allows patients see a doctor without leaving home or work. If you’re worried about a high deductible, you might want to think about adding to your insurance coverage.
Use it, don’t lose it
This applies to flexible spending accounts, which let workers set aside income before taxes to cover health-related expenses. Resolve to use your entire balance before you lose it. Check with your employer on how that might happen. Some companies may require you to spend your money by the end of the year or give you a grace period into the new year.
Employers hold open enrollment periods every year, generally in late fall for coverage that starts Jan. 1. Likewise, coverage sold outside the employer-sponsored market also must be purchased largely during an open-enrollment window. For 2016 coverage, that window closes Jan. 31.