By Tom Wiffler, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits
For anyone confronted with an unexpected medical issue, the physical and financial stress can be daunting. To alleviate as many of those concerns as possible, it is important to have a plan in place to help facilitate access to quality care and support, especially when it comes to easing the administrative process and enabling faster payouts under qualified benefit plans.
If you’re starting the year with a new health plan or simply a refreshed determination to trim
expenses, now may be a good time to look for ways to save on your health care costs.
These tips may help put your benefits to better use and make health care more affordable:
1. Understand what’s covered
Many health plans cover costs for annual checkups, health screenings and immunizations, when you see a network care provider. Consider verifying how other services will be covered by logging into your member website or calling the number on your ID card.
2. Know where to go for care
Heading to an emergency room for a non-lifethreatening issue may cost you far more than visiting an alternative setting, such as urgent care or a convenience clinic. An average ER visit is around $2,200, while a typical urgent care appointment may cost you $180. In addition, seeking care in the ER may mean longer wait times and an increased exposure to germs. If you are faced with a non-emergency health condition, but your primary care doctor’s office is closed, consider the potential benefits of a convenient, lower-cost
3. Stay in network
Choosing doctors and labs in your plan’s network will likely mean paying less. In-network care providers and labs have pre-negotiated rates for health care services, which may help reduce the chances you’ll get a surprise bill.
4. Consider prescription options
Your health plan may offer discounts, or you may have access to generic versions of brand-name drugs. Generic medications contain the same active ingredients but typically cost less. You may also be able to save even more by filling your prescriptions at a participating network pharmacy or by choosing home delivery by mail.
5. Take advantage of incentives
Many plans offer wellness programs that may enable you to earn incentives for meeting certain health goals. Some programs reward you for activities you may already be doing, such as walking, cycling or strength training.
.For example, the UnitedHealthcare Motion® program uses a motion device to track steps, reach goals and earn financial rewards (over $1,000 per year) to help offset plan participant out-of-pocket costs with deposits into their health savings account (HSA) —provided at no additional cost and part of your benefit plan.
For more information about managing health care costs, visit uhc.com.