Get The Most Out of Your Health Insurance by Using Your Essential Benefits

Health insurance is not a favorite topic for many people, but there is no denying that it’s important. Especially now, it is important to pay attention to our health insurance policies and make sure that we are using them in the best way we can to stay healthy. 

To stay healthy, you should know what benefits your insurance provides and how to use them.

What are health insurance benefits? 

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all health insurance plans were required to cover ten essential health benefits. These benefits are: 

When you pay your monthly premium, you are paying to make sure you have access to all these services. 

  • Preventive and wellness services 
  • Lab tests
  • Hospitalization
  • Prescription drugs
  • Services and Devices  for injuries, disabilities or chronic conditions
  • Outpatient care
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental and Behavioral Health treatment
  • Pediatric care
  • Emergency room services

How can I use my benefits during COVID-19? 

Although testing for COVID-19 has been provided at no cost to the patient, many people have been using their health insurance to get treated. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are many reasons to use health insurance which are not related to COVID-19! For example, check-ups, vaccines, screenings, and smoking cessation assistance are all covered under preventive care. 

Currently, people may not be accessing these services due to concerns around COVID-19. It can be difficult to figure out if all of the care people require needs to continue during COVID-19, or if it should wait until the care can be provided in a safer way. If you are trying to make a decision about keeping, rescheduling, or cancelling doctors’ appointments, you might find this article helpful. In general, the advice from the article is to stay in contact with your doctor and get their help with deciding what medical care you need and what can wait. 

What does it mean to stay in contact with my doctor? 

Staying in contact with your doctor during COVID-19 can take many forms. Hopefully, you have a primary care doctor. If not, check out this information about how to find one. 

You can stay in contact by calling your doctor’s office — most offices have an option to call and speak with a nurse when you have a medical question. Your doctor’s office may also have a system where patients can send electronic messages to their doctor through a secure system. You can use that system to message your doctor with any questions you might have. Your doctor might advise you to use telehealth services for a virtual visit, come to the office for a regular visit, or even delay your visit until it is not as risky to be seen. 

But the most important thing to keep in mind is that these answers will depend on your health status, age, location, internet connection, and many other factors! There is no one size fits all answer, so staying in contact with your doctor is a must! 

Much of this information comes from the Smart Choice Smart Use program. For more resources, check out our website at https://extension.umd.edu/insure/consumer-resources. You can also learn more by participating in an upcoming training on getting the most out of your insurance by registering at https://go.umd.edu/health_insurance.

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