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Using Health Insurance When Healthy

Now when it comes down to it, health insurance should ideally make health care more accessible and affordable for us, right? That said, it doesn’t seem like we maximize it to the degree we should. As a matter of fact, health insurance isn’t just for when you’re sick either.

Joining me today is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute®, and she’s here to discuss how you can use your health coverage even if you’re healthy. Mihaela, how can someone get the most out of their health insurance when they’re well and feeling good?

Mihaela: Standard health insurance plans may cover preventive services like screenings, immunizations, and routine physicals, which are important because they can identify health issues before they evolve into costly problems. Preventive services may be covered without additional out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles or copays—they’re certainly worth looking into if you want to use your health insurance when healthy.

Al: Agreed. Any way we can protect ourselves from long-term health problems is a prudent and sound investment. What other ways can individuals go about protecting their health long-term?

Mihaela: Most people don’t know this, but many insurance companies offer incentives for individuals to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. Benefits vary by health plan, but examples include discounts for services like gym memberships, coupons for health-related expenses, and even prizes! These incentives are worth checking out to get the most out of your health insurance.

Al: Exactly. And on a personal note, I worked with a client that partnered with “Wellable”, an organization that specializes in wellness. “Wellable” helped the company facilitate a friendly, 6-week company “competition” to help employees get healthier by providing fit-bits, enabling individual teams to track each member’s exercise, diet and even sleep.

And at the end, while there were prizes, it was also a great team building exercise and provided further motivation to get and stay healthy! So, are there any other ways that we can fully take advantage of our health insurance?

Mihaela: Yes! For specific groups, such as women and children, there are annual wellness visits. Here’s a couple examples of what may be covered; gestational diabetes screening, anemia testing, and breast cancer screenings for women. Services for children vary by age, but they include check-ups such as “well-baby” visits that ensure your baby is meeting developmental milestones.

Al: You know, it’s encouraging to know that these kinds of features may actually come from health insurance. So, for those wondering, how can we vet and learn more about a specific plan’s benefits?

Mihaela: Insurance plans can differ by the providers you see and how much you pay. So, it is a good idea to understand your Summary of Benefits and Coverage. You can get this document by asking your insurance company for it. It’ll tell you the key features of your plan, like what’s covered and what isn’t, and what your share of the cost for services will be. This way, you’ll know exactly what is included and you’ll gain insights on all the free services available.

Al: Well, must say, these are all pretty sound reasons to make the most of your health coverage. Are there any resources our listeners could tap into to learn more?

Mihaela: Yes. Visit the Using Your Health Insurance Coverage page at Healthcare.gov to learn more about ways to take advantage of the services your health insurance offers.

Al: Great tips Mihaela and thanks for joining us!

You’ve been tuned to another episode of ClearPath – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth. Until the next time, this is Al Waller on WYPR, your NPR News Station. Thanks for listening.

Clearpath is paid for by the Transamerica Institute.

Al Waller is a long-time Baltimore native and employment expert with a 30-year career in leading and advising locally and globally based corporations on matters including: Talent Acquisition and Retention, Employee Relations, Training and Development.
Mihaela Vincze is a public health expert and experienced health care educator. Serving as Transamerica Institute’s health care content developer, she shares insights on health and wellness on ClearPath—Your Roadmap to Health and WealthSM. Mihaela earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in public health at California State University, Northridge.