As the end of the year approaches, there are a number of ways consumers can take advantage of their health insurance benefits. By using parts of your coverage, or filling up on prescriptions, or addressing lingering issues, you can potentially save money and ensure that you’re taking full advantage of the benefits provided by your health plan. The end of the year is also the right time to review your health benefits to make sure they fit your needs. These are some effective strategies to maximize your health insurance benefits at the end of the year.
Consider Open Enrollment for health insurance
While there are ways to use your existing coverage at the end of the year, one of the most important things to do at year-end is to make sure you are prepared for the next year during Open Enrollment. This is the time of year when you can either opt into or out of your health insurance plan or make changes to your existing coverage. Here is an article that explains Open Enrollment, including some of the changes to expect, along with the timeframe for signing up this year. If you have an employer-sponsored plan, this is also the time to learn about your company’s plan for health benefits and what changes you should expect.
Even if you’re satisfied with your current health insurance coverage, it’s still worth taking the time to review your plan and explore any new options that may be available. Insurance providers often make changes to their plans and add new features that could benefit you. By staying informed, you can ensure that you have the most suitable coverage for your needs.
Use health insurance at the end of the year when your deductible is met
One key element of health insurance is the deductible, which is the amount you must pay out of pocket for healthcare expenses before your insurance kicks in. Deductibles typically reset with the start of the new calendar year, so knowing whether or not you have met your deductible in the last months of the year is important.
If you have already reached your deductible for the current year, it’s wise to schedule any necessary doctor visits or procedures before the year ends. By doing so, you can ensure that these expenses will be covered by your insurance. If you wait until the new year, you will have to pay out of pocket until you meet your deductible again.
In addition, some insurance plans have separate deductibles for medical care and prescription drugs. If you have already met your pharmacy deductible, it is always beneficial to refill any necessary prescriptions before January 1. This way, you can take advantage of your coverage and avoid paying the full cost out of pocket.
Use your dental insurance benefits before the end of the year
Dental insurance typically imposes an annual limit on the benefits it pays out during a calendar year. If you haven’t already maxed out your dental benefits, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment and see if any recommended treatment is needed. For example, if you require $2,000 worth of dental work, but your insurance policy only covers up to $1,000 per year, you could schedule $1,000 worth of treatment before the year ends and plan for the rest to be done in the following year. This approach allows you to maximize the coverage provided by your insurance.
Vision insurance can be used before the end of the year
Unlike medical and dental insurance, vision insurance often functions more like a discount plan. Typically, vision insurance covers part or all of the cost of an annual eye exam and contributes a specific amount towards the purchase of contact lenses or eyeglasses. To make the most of your vision insurance, review your plan details to understand what is covered and within what timeframe. For instance, some plans only cover eyeglasses once every other year. Based on the benefits you have already used this year, decide whether it’s worth scheduling an appointment or ordering new corrective lenses before the end of the year.
Know tax advantages of spending accounts
If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA) to help cover medical expenses, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
HSAs are particularly valuable because the money you contribute rolls over from year to year. In fact, HSAs can even be used as investment vehicles for retirement. That means it’s beneficial to maximize your contributions to an HSA whenever possible. Going into 2024, the IRS has made big changes to the limits allowed to fund HSAs. For individuals, that amount has increased from $3,850 to $4,150. For families, the allowable amount goes from $7,750 to $8,300. By contributing the maximum amount allowed, you can take advantage of the tax benefits and ensure that you have funds available for future medical expenses.
As the calendar year comes to a close, taking advantage of your health insurance can save you big money, especially for health needs that could come early in the following year. Knowing if you’ve met your deductible and understanding the benefits of dental and vision can be valuable to your wallet. It’s also the right time to understand Open Enrollment and the tax advantages of health savings accounts.