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Six Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Health Insurance

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Americans spend thousands of dollars on health care costs each year, including monthly insurance premiums, co-pays, out-of-pocket costs and prescription drugs. Here are six ways you can get more out of your health insurance.

1. Make sure you select the right plan for you and your family

It's important to periodically review whether your coverage is still right for you. Instead of just sticking with the same plan year after year, think about what you might need in the near future. Things like upcoming dental work or recently diagnosed illnesses can be huge factors when picking a plan.

You may also take into account what pricing plans fit your medical needs. For example, if you take medication regularly, consider coverage with a low deductible and co-pay.

2. Understand your plan

Fully understanding your health insurance plan could save you a lot of money in the long run. One particularly important thing to know is that many plans have a set network of participating doctors and hospitals. Your plan may not cover treatment by a doctor outside this group, so know exactly which medical professionals participate in your plan's network.

Similarly, plans tend to have an approved list of medications called a formulary. Prescription drugs on this list will usually be cheaper than other options, so be sure to have that list at hand when talking with your doctor and choosing medications.

To find out exactly what your plan covers, request a benefits summary. Insurance companies are required to provide you with documentation that is easy to read and that breaks down the coverage your plan includes.

3. Take extra advantage of your plan when you hit your deductible

A deductible is the money you pay out of pocket every year before your insurance plan starts to cover some or all of your medical expenses. Depending on your plan, a deductible can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

In most plans, once you hit your deductible, additional health care services will cost much less out of pocket. If you've already reached your deductible this year, consider looking into health treatments that might otherwise be too expensive. Plans usually cover things like physical therapy, skin treatments and joint replacement surgery. Check with your insurance company to see what treatments they cover.

4. Use your benefits

People are often surprised to learn just how much their insurance plan offers beyond the typical doctor visits and prescription drugs. From workout classes to mental health services, many plans include a variety of fully covered wellness programs. Get more out of your coverage by tapping into these perks, which are usually listed on the insurance company's website.

5. Review your bills carefully

Health care bills can sometimes include errors. For example, your provider might code a payment incorrectly or your insurance company might not immediately understand why a service was necessary. Therefore, it's important that you look over your bills to ensure you're getting appropriately charged at every stage of the billing process.

If you think your health care provider made a mistake, talk to their billing office and document the outcome in writing. If the bill has already gone to collections, be sure to request a copy of your credit reports and ask that any errors be corrected.

6. Don't be afraid to ask questions

Navigating your health care plan can be confusing, so it's important to ask questions. Whether it's double-checking that a doctor is in your plan's network or requesting that your provider explain their payment options, asking questions can potentially save you a lot of money.

Health insurance can be an overwhelming and expensive necessity. But if you choose the right plan and take advantage of everything it offers, you can make sure it's worth every dollar.

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