If you have health,vision or dental insurance, January 1, 2014 may mean the start of a new health insurance plan or the reset of annual benefits and deductibles.
The implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the rush of the holidays could easily make you forget to take advantage of 2013 benefits that will expire at the end of the year. Don’t fail to schedule your medical care in order to take full advantage of your deductibles, or to fully fund your Health Savings Accounts.
eHealth recommends that consumers take a few minutes each December to re-familiarize themselves with the details of their current coverage and get the most out of their health insurance dollars.
Top Five Year-End Health Insurance Tips
Don’t miss out on calendar-year benefits – Many health insurance plans cover annual physicals with little or no out-of-pocket cost, and it’s nice to start the new year with a clean bill of health. Your eligibility for a dental checkup, a vision checkup, or vision hardware like contacts or a new pair of glasses, may also follow a calendar-year schedule. Check with your insurance company to see if you’re still eligible for services like these in 2013.
Work your deductible – Many health insurance plans come with a deductible that resets every calendar year. If you’ve already met your deductible for 2013, or are close to it, medical care rendered before the end of the year may be covered at a lower out-of-pocket cost to you. Conversely, if you’re a long way from fulfilling this year’s deductible but expect to have a lot of medical expenses in 2014, you may want to delay non-emergency care until early next year so that you can fulfill next year’s deductible sooner.
Be smart with FSA dollars – Funds in employer-sponsored Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) don’t roll over from year to year. Check with your Human Resources department or FSA administrator to see if you have money left in your account, and make use of it before the end of December. If you’re a heavy FSA-user, note that the maximum contribution to an FSA is now $2,500 . If that’s not enough for your needs next year, consider switching to an HSA-eligible health insurance plan and opening a Health Savings Account.
Fund your Health Savings Accounts to the max – If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) and an HSA-eligible health insurance plan, maximize your tax savings by fully funding it. As with FSAs, money can be saved in an HSA on a pre-tax or tax-deductible basis to pay for qualified medical care. Unlike FSAs, the money in your HSA is yours to keep and funds can roll over and grow year after year until retirement. The contribution limit for HSAs in 2013 is $3,250 for individual coverage, or $6,450 for family coverage.
Get a jump on healthy News Year’s resolutions – Check with your health insurance company to see if they offer discounts with local or national health clubs. Ask your employer or health insurance company if they offer special money-saving incentives or discounts for achieving specific wellness milestones. Staying healthy over the long term can improve your quality of life and help keep your medical and health insurance costs in check.
Happy holidays and stay healthy, eHealthers!