Being Prepared For Change

Even if you didn’t change jobs or health care insurers since last year, you should be prepared for changes in your healthcare plan now that it’s 2014. Are you ready? Keep these three tips in mind to minimize unpleasant surprises the next time you go to the doctor:
1.    Expect to get “carded”: Many plans reissue insurance cards annually for each covered member and you should definitely have a new card if you changed plans or have insurance for the first time. Make sure you bring your (or your family member’s) new card to your appointment! Your provider will want a copy as proof of insurance, and not having it could delay processing of your claim.
2.    Brush up on your (insurance) vocabulary: Become familiar with key definitions that impact your plan. Phrases like “co-insurance” “amount disallowed” “ancillary fees, products or services” and “EOB” are commonly used throughout the industry. The Department of Labor has one of many resources you can use to familiarize yourself with key terms.
3.    Know before you go. This is the single most important thing you can do. Is your provider in-network? (Networks change – especially this year, so double check.) Do you know your deductible? Will you owe co-insurance or a co-pay at the time of service? Do you need to set up an account to access HSA funds? Do you need a primary care referral before seeing a specialist? Refer to your coverage details or contact your provider BEFORE you schedule an appointment so you are prepared for any up front costs.
Don’t let the changing health insurance landscape catch you by surprise. A little research before an appointment can save a lot of headaches later.