GUEST COLUMN: Make the most of your health insurance

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2022

As the holidays approach, it’s easy to forget to take advantage of your insurance benefits. Now 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 while you still can. 

“In considering their health care needs, people should also consider the best strategy for using their available health insurance plan benefits,” said Terry Treadwell, CEO of Merit Health River Region. “Take advantage of unused benefits to complete outstanding treatments or recommended tests or procedures before the year ends.” 

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. Treadwell said 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.”

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The close of 2022 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, Treadwell said.

If you have been putting off scheduling care, such as an annual check-up, allergy testing or elective surgery, it would be wise to check your deductible status and your FSA balance to see if there’s money to be saved.

“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 2022 coverage,” he said.

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

To determine how you can maximize your health plan benefits, check with your primary care provider. Don’t have a primary care provider? Visit MyMeritDoctor.com or call 1-855-MSMERIT to find a provider and schedule an appointment.