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How to make the most of your insurance coverage before end of year

It's the end of November, and while you're contemplating your accomplishments this year, remember that now is a great time to make the most of your insurance benefits before they disappear.

If that sounds overwhelming, we've got you. Use our guide to get the answers to all of these questions (and more):

  • Based on your annual benefits, which appointments should you consider scheduling before the end of the year?
  • What can you do with your high (or low) deductible insurance right now to avoid paying out of pocket for appointments?
  • Which items can you get with your FSA before it expires?

About those annual benefits...

Your annual benefits are the maximum amount your health insurance will pay toward the cost of your care within a specific amount of time — usually a year. Since your benefits do have calendar limits (take a look at your policy to find out more and talk to your HR representative if you have questions), there are some things you should make sure to take care of before the end of the year:

  • Your semi-annual dental cleaning
  • New glasses and/or contact lenses
  • Prescriptions
  • Lab tests

While you're at it, don't forget about preventative care:

  • That annual visit to the OB-GYN (or primary care doctor) for your physical
  • Any immunizations you might need
  • Screenings for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes
  • Tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Screenings for cervical cancer, breast cancer, and osteoporosis (if you're due)

A refresher on deductibles

First, let's review some vocab (for more definitions, check out HealthCare.gov's glossary):

  • Deductible: The amount you pay for covered healthcare services before your insurance plan starts to pay.
  • High-deductible health plan: A plan with a higher deductible than a traditional insurance plan. (According to Healthcare.gov, a high-deductible health plan for 2020 is any plan with a deductible of at least $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family.)
  • Low-deductible health plan: A plan with a lower deductible than a traditional plan. You pay less up front, then your plan starts kicking in — but you end up paying more for your monthly premium.

If you've hit your deductible for 2019, your 2020 benefits may have already entered the picture. (Take a look at your explanation of benefits (EOB) to confirm this.) If this is the case for you, you can start scheduling appointments you might have thought you'd have to pay for out of pocket, including:

  • A visit to the dermatologist: Check in with the biggest organ we have — our skin.
  • The dentist: Book any procedure outside semi-annual cleanings.
  • Mental health: Get access to psychotherapy, psychiatry, and substance-abuse recovery.
  • Rehabilitative services: Kickstart your recovery from an (or treat an existing) illness or injury.
  • Acupuncture: Use it to take care of any chronic pain or nausea that comes with chemotherapy or surgery (this is only covered by some plans).

Clean out that FSA

First, read up on the differences between an FSA (flexible spending account) and an HSA (health savings account). Both allow you to set aside pre-taxed dollars from your paycheck for medical expenses. But while an HSA's funds will roll over to the following year, if you don't use up your FSA's funds, they'll disappear. (Some companies have a grace period with their FSAs, so make sure to check.)

Here are some of the items you can get with those FSA funds (visit FSAstore.com for a full list):

  • First aid kits
  • Contact lens wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Condoms
  • Anti-nausea bracelets
  • Fertility trackers
  • At-home sperm test kits
  • Pregnancy tests
  • Acupressure neck pillows
  • Vaporizers
  • Pain relievers
  • Cold/allergy meds
  • And... Modern Fertility!

Yep, you can use your HSA or FSA to pay for our hormone test kit. Once you receive your kit at home, activate it first, then download your HSA/FSA receipt to submit for reimbursement. (Just send us an email for an itemized receipt.)

Start 2020 off on the right foot by checking in with your fertility!

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Chanel Dubofsky

Chanel's writing has appeared in Cosmo, Rewire, Lilith, HelloFlo, & Extra Crispy. She has an MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts & lives in New York. Follow her @chaneldubofsky.

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