With both health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses increasing in 2013, it’ll be a little harder to save. Many people aren’t aware that newer insurance plans cover recommended preventive care now with no co-pays and without even needing to meet the plan’s deductible. A recent Health Affairs article noted that only one in five HSA-plan holders knew that their plans covered preventive care without a deductible.
When You Got Your Plan Makes a Big Difference
A survey by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) found most HSA plans provide first-dollar coverage for recommended preventive care. If you got a plan after March 23, 2010, you don’t have to meet a deductible or even pay for co-pays or co-insurance for a lot of preventive care when you use in-network doctors. These services are recommended specifically because they’ve been shown to prevent major illnesses. That not only protects your wellbeing, but also reduces your long-term medical bills. (However, this coverage is of course not “free”, and in fact raises the cost of your premiums. That’s why you may want to keep your grandfathered plan if you got it before March 2010, especially if your premiums are lower.)
AHIP also checked how well versed HSA policyholders were about how to use their plan. They reported that only 18.1 percent of the respondents understood there were no cost-sharing requirements for many health screenings and vaccinations. Some screenings can help detect cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other major threats before too much damage has been done. Other screenings can find problems in infants, like hearing or vision loss, so these issues can be addressed early to help children reach their full potential.
Put the Brakes on Chronic Illness with Covered Screenings
About 13.5 million of us now rely on an HSA plan for health care, and lack of awareness about coverage for preventive care is seen across socio-demographics. Have you been missing covered care? Many of these services have a good chance of saving you from chronic illness that could leave you with years of increased health care charges.
AHIP also reported that around 18.6 percent of respondents said they had delayed getting preventive care services because of the cost. So if you are being forced to pay for preventive coverage, I recommend that you make use of it.
Wiley Long is President of HSA for America, and a passionate advocate for consumer-based solutions that will improve price transparency and lower health insurance and medical costs for people purchasing individual and family health insurance plans.