How to help: Northern California wildfire relief

One Good Choice: Make the Most of Your Health Plan’s Free Tools

The following is sponsored by SelectHealth

Figuring out your health insurance benefits and budgeting for medical care can be overwhelming—but most health insurers provide free resources that can help you make sense of it all. One of the most convenient sources of information? Online member tools.

Your health plan website will require you to create a username and password to access their tools because it’s important to keep this data secure. But once you’re in, you’ll have access to a ton of helpful information, such as your coverage documents, year-to-date totals (also known as accumulators), and medical claims. Here’s a run-down on the most commonly found tools and how to use them:

  • The Dashboard. Your health plan may call it something different, but this starting page gives you an overview of your plan. Think of it as a snapshot. You should be able to tell at a glance how much you’ve met toward your deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. This is important because it can affect how much you owe each time you get medical care (or fill a prescription). The amounts you are responsible to pay typically change once you’ve met your deductible—keep this in mind when planning for expenses.
  • Claims. If you have medical, pharmacy, or even dental coverage through your health plan, you should be able to view your claims online. See who billed for which services, or find out exactly how much your insurance plan paid towards claims versus how much you are responsible to pay. Not sure what the terms mean? Read more FAQs and find definitions.
  • Coverage. Let’s face it, most of us file away our plan coverage documents and don’t look at them again. Don’t dig through your files when you need a service, view your plan benefits online. How is an office visit covered? What about preventive care or a trip to the urgent care? It’s all documented, so no more guessing games.
  • Budget. Speaking of guessing, there’s no need to guess at healthcare costs anymore. Companies like SelectHealth have Medical Cost Estimators so you can get an estimate for how much you’ll pay for everything from a standard office visit to knee replacement surgery. Don’t wait for the bill—plan ahead before you get the service, and you’ll feel a lot less overwhelmed (and a lot more in control!).

If you don’t find yourself in front of a desktop computer very often, many plans provide these tools and more in a mobile version, so you can access them directly from your phone. Spending a few minutes to become familiar with what’s available from your health plan really pays off—you might be surprised how handy it is and you’ll certainly be prepared when you need it. Instead of giving up on understanding insurance, get in the know and take a spin in the driver’s seat.

Learn more about SelectHealth and the tools they provide to put members in charge of their own health.