Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My 5 Smart Benefit Planning Tips

Feeling a little confused about Health Care Reform right now? I have been amazed with not only the wealth of information and rumors circulating as well as how much is being done behind the scenes. health care and insurance coverage is a big topic of conversation in our household. Both of my children have a metabolic condition called PKU. It is genetic and lifelong. The kids drink a medical formula as well as eat special medical foods in order to live. Making sure they stay covered by insurance is essential to us managing their condition. Before they were born we had to decide what are health care priorities were, and choosing coverage was not easy. Since it is time again for Open Enrollment and you employer or your family might be looking into health care changes, your family's health may be top of your mind. It can be a rather scary or complicated process. Twittermoms & Aetna has asked bloggers to write 5 ways to make health benefits decisions in one hour or less from the article The Power of an Hour.

1.Attend  Info Sessions Armed with Questions - Sometimes employers will bring in representatives to talk about their plans. Be sure to attend and come armed with questions if possible. I remember before my son was conceived I had a long list of questions regarding prenatal and hospital visit coverage. I found out they had special coverage we could purchase just for this. It really paid off to have asked and to be planning ahead.

2.Come with a List - Make sure you ask about which doctors are in a given network. Some plans want you so stay in a certain location, while others allow for more flexible options. I had my second child delivered in a neighboring city because I needed a doctor who would attempt a VBAC. This proceedure was not available in our town and the insurance allowed for the procedure since it could cost them less than a C-section.

3. Check in Flexible Spending - Sometimes you can use your flexible spending like a Debit Account... sometimes it works for your deductibles. The first one we had took multiple forms for reimbursement... booo.... I do love flexible spending accounts though because they can either help cover unexpected expenses, while being deducted a little at a time from your paycheck, or they can be a great way to budget for known expenses like glasses or medications.

4. Talk to your Spouse About the Coming Year - It is always a good idea to know what is coming up before you start thinking about coverage. Are you planning on having a baby? Will your child need braces? Do you have a history of cancer or other conditions at a certain age? My son is now at the age to see the dentist, so we needed to be sure to have him included on dental. Coverage priorities really change with small children.

5. Does the Coverage Cover Extras? - Do you get a break for joining a gym? Or can you get supplies for quitting smoking? Make sure to ask, and for future questions get the name of a representative or case manager you can contact. Have a name and number (or email address when available) can make your experience more enjoyable and keep you in the know.

Okay, those were pretty simple. I want to thank both TwitterMoms and Aetna for starting this conversation off. Be sure to stop by TwitterMoms for links to other great posts on this topic. I wish you all the best as you select coverage for the coming year. Luckily, Aetna has a great tool for helping to navigate these tough decisions.

Be Smart About Your Health is a one-stop consumer health benefits educational resource from Aetna designed to help people discover more about their physical and financial health and health benefits. Launched in 2010, the website allows visitors to think like smart health care consumers, choose the right benefits, track spending, plan health care visits and live well to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The portal also houses recent health information from Aetna InteliHealth®, interactive tools and the latest updates on health reform. Be Smart About Your Health promotes a better understanding to help people make more informed health care decisions and to help consumers protect their health and their finances. www.BeSmartAboutYourHealth.com.

*Disclosure - I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Aetna blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 Target gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
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