At the end of 2019, millions of Americans renewed their insurance or chose new health insurance plans as the New Year began.
Over the past two years, I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about using my health insurance benefits. However, I’ve also learned how to hack my health insurance to get the most out of it — which is important because, as Cosmo writes, “insurance and medical bills are confusing and expensive.”
They’re especially confusing and expensive if you’re someone who uses the healthcare system a lot, like me — and I do mean a lot. Between weekly therapy appointments, a 6-week intensive outpatient program for mental health and umpteen doctor’s appointments with generalists and specialists alike as I sorted out my gut health issues, I’m positive I have hundreds of dollars in unpaid medical bills lying around somewhere. (And that’s not some weird “look-how-sick-I-am” flex, I promise!)
If there’s anything to take away from this post, it’s that you need health insurance and that more importantly, you need to understand your health insurance. And as much as I’d love a universal healthcare supporter — like a Bernie or an Elizabeth — to be elected president in 2020, we can’t close our eyes and cross our fingers in the meantime.
So, without further ado, here’s how to hack the sh*t out of your health insurance this year as a gal with chronic illness. You’re welcome, boss babes!
Go with the PPO
Someone who utilizes the healthcare system frequently should NOT choose an HSA plan. An HSA plan comes with lower premiums, but also worse benefits. In the long run, as someone with a chronic illness, you’ll save more money by paying more for the PPO upfront so you can reap better benefits from your health insurance down the road.
Hit That Deductible Hard
If you have a deductible on your plan, I recommend hitting it as soon as you can. Granted, this shouldn’t be a goal if you don’t have a chronic illness — but if you’re going to make the doctor’s visits or buy the meds anyways, then go ahead and schedule that extra appointment or fill that extra prescription early on.
The sooner you hit your deductible, the sooner your health insurance plan will start covering more of your healthcare, leaving you with more money left in your pocket…. although if getting on a plan without a deductible is an option for you, I highly recommend that alternative!
Save on Meds
Drugstores like CVS and certain health insurance companies (like mine, Anthem Blue Cross / Blue Cross Blue Shield) offer savings on medication if you choose to have it delivered straight to your mailbox, rather than picking them up in-store. If you take a lot of medication for your chronic condition, I highly recommend taking advantage of this service, especially if it comes with the option to have your pills separated into daily packs for convenience and ease on-the-go.
Sites like GoodRx can also help you save a quick buck on filling your medications by giving you coupons you can print and show to your pharmacist. For example, I looked up escitalopram (the generic version of Lexapro) and found that you can save almost $50 with GoodRx if you’re paying out-of-pocket for medication. Sometimes, these prices can even be better than those your insurance offers, so make sure to compare costs before picking up your meds in-store!
Redeem Fitness Benefits
Here’s a health insurance hack that anyone can use! Did you know that many health insurance companies offer discounts on certain fitness benefits? For example, some companies will reimburse the cost of your monthly gym membership. Others will even give you a fitness tracker 100% for free. Some will even pay for classes in yoga, dance, Pilates and more.
Since exercise is a great way to manage chronic illness symptoms for many conditions, I highly recommend you call your insurance company and look into what fitness benefits are available on your plan!