GUEST COLUMN: Make the Most of your Health Insurance

Published 11:09 am Monday, November 1, 2021

Submitted by Merit Health River Region

During the fall and as the holidays approach, it’s easy to forget to take advantage of your insurance benefits. October is a good time to review your outstanding health care needs and take full advantage of paid-up deductibles or available funds in Flexible Spending Accounts.

“In considering their health care needs, people should also consider the best strategy for using their available health insurance plan benefits,” said Debbie Miller, Director Revenue Cycle. “Take advantage of unused benefits to complete outstanding treatments or recommended tests or procedures before the year ends.” 

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Most health insurance plans have a deductible requirement — a predetermined amount of healthcare expense that must be covered before the plan begins paying the majority of (if not all) remaining expenses. Miller says it’s crucial to know how close you are to meeting your deductible — or if you’ve already met it “because once you reach that threshold, you have a limited window of opportunity to obtain health care services and have the bulk of that expense covered by your plan. Remember: a new year brings a new deductible,” she said. 

The close of 2021 also affects individuals who have Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) — which are pre-tax dollars set aside primarily for health-related expenses. The Internal Revenue Service requires those funds to be spent — or forfeited — by Dec. 31. It’s a “use it or lose it” proposition, says Miller.

“If you have been putting off scheduling care, such as an annual check-up, allergy testing, or elective surgery,” added family medicine physician Dr. Brandon Mizell. “This would be a good time to consult your doctor about getting back on track with your health. At the same time, it would be wise to check your deductible status and your FSA balance to see if there’s money to be saved, by scheduling appointments and procedures before December 31st.”

It’s important to schedule services promptly so there is enough time to have the test or elective procedure done before the end of the year. Getting everything squared away by early December will help ensure the services you receive are considered part of your 2021 coverage.

Every health plan is different. It is important to know how your plan works so you can get the most from your benefits.

Check with your primary care provider to discuss possible options. Don’t have a primary care provider? Visit or call 1-855-MSMERIT to find a provider and schedule an appointment.