1. 5 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Health Benefits In the not-so-distant past, many Americans had difficulty obtaining health insurance. Some were outright denied coverage because of preexisting conditions, while others simply couldnt afford the high cost of a health plan. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made health insurance more accessible to Americans especially those between the ages of 50-64by barring insurance companies from denying coverage due to preexisting conditions, and by establishing a healthcare marketplace through which people can buy subsidized coverage (for those who qualify). Lets take a look at some ways to ensure you get the most out of your health benefits, whether you have insurance through work or a private health plan. 1: Explore All of Your Options for Coverage Whether youre working full-time or part-time, or youre unemployed, a student, or self- employed, you have options when it comes to getting health insurance. If you currently have group coverage through work, consult with your human resources person to review all of the different plans available, especially if youre unhappy with your current plan. Students, part-time employees who dont have coverage through work, and self-employed individuals can purchase a plan through the healthcare marketplace, and many will qualify for cost-sharing subsidies and tax breaks to help cover costs. Seniors 65 and older should look into Medicare enrollment. Consult with an expert, like those at BenefitPackages, to find your best option for coverage. 2: Assess Your Coverage as Your Family Status Changes Marriage, the birth or adoption of a child and the death of a spouse are all life events that should prompt you to reevaluate your current health plan. If youre on a group health plan through work and just got married, for example, find out what it will cost to add your spouse to your plan, and alternatively, what it would cost to add you to your spouses employer plan. Many employers only subsidize the cost of coverage for employees, not their family members. This can make adding your spouse to your health plan cost prohibitive. In this case, you each may want to stay on separate employer-sponsored plans. Note that if your employer health plan costs more than 9.5% of your income, you may be eligible for a marketplace plan. Be sure to look into all your options when you have a change in family status. 3: Study Your Plan Carefully and Understand Insurance Terminology The monthly premium is certainly an important consideration when choosing a health plan; but its not the only consideration. Plans with lower premiums often have less coverage and/or higher copays, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts. Its important to understand these terms and what they mean for you in terms of costs. Its also important to know the differences between HMO, PPO, and other common types of plans, in order to find one that will best meet your needs. 4: Look for Wellness Programs and Mental Health and Substance Use Coverage Employers are increasingly establishing wellness programs for their employees. These employers realize that wellness programs not only improve the lives of employees, but they also 2. keep health insurance and absenteeism costs down for the employer. Look into whether your employers plan has a wellness program, which often provides cost savings and other rewards for employees. Many health plans also provide mental health and substance use disorder benefits. These important but often overlooked benefits can provide critical helpcheck your plans explanation of benefits to find out whether these coverages are included. 5: Use Your Health Insurance Plan Many people who are healthy, with no chronic health conditions, will maintain health coverage in case of an accident or a catastrophic illness (and because its now the law), but they neglect to use their plan for regular check-ups. Most health plans are not just for emergency careuse your plan to get regular physical exams and routine tests. The ACA has made many preventive services free of charge, such as cancer screenings, routine vaccinations, and diet and cholesterol testsbe sure to take advantage of these benefits. Company Bio BenefitPackages is a health exchange-certified insurance agency that has been helping individuals and businesses find affordable California health insurance for over two decades. The companys licensed agents know the healthcare law inside and out, and can help you understand your options for coverage and enroll in a plan. Contact BenefitPackages today at 1-800-356- 3615, or visit the companys website.