It’s July, which means we’re more than halfway through 2022. It’s a good time to ask yourself: are you making the most of your health insurance plan?

In order to get the most bang for your buck, here are ideas that could help you save money—and you may even feel better for it.

  1. Read your policy and learn what’s included. Most policies will include preventive care. That means you can receive a number of screening services, such as cholesterol screening, blood pressure screening, depression screening, tobacco use screening, obesity screening and counseling and more, at no out-of-pocket charge. By taking these steps, you can find out important insights about your health, and act early if your healthcare provider has any concerns. In addition, most plans also cover immunizations at no charge to you, including vaccines for COVID-19, flu, shingles, tetanus, HPV and others. If you haven’t already taken advantage of these services, do so today.
  2. If you’ve paid your deductible, schedule more services. A deductible refers to the amount you pay for health services covered by your plan before your insurance company begins to pay for services. So, if your deductible is $1,500, you pay that amount for covered services before your health insurance picks up the costs. If you’ve already paid your deductible this year, or at least a significant portion of it, it’s a good time to talk to your health care provider about any health services, tests or procedures you might need, and schedule those before 2023.
  3. If you haven’t paid your deductible, consider whether it makes sense to hold off on scheduling more services. On the other hand, if you haven’t come close to meeting your deductible, it might make sense to delay health services that are considered “non-emergency” for a later time, like early 2023, as long as your healthcare provider agrees it’s ok. Then, those costs will apply to that year’s deductible (and out-of-pocket max). Hitting your deductible early could make healthcare costs for the year significantly cheaper.
  4. Find out if there are special discounts, perks or free services associated with your health insurance policy. Some plans offer special wellness incentives, like the Blue365 program, including discounts to gyms, special deals on apparel  and other savings that could be beneficial to your health. Another offering: if you have questions about your health, a nurse or advisor with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama is available to answer questions by phone, provide education, connect you to community resources and help you and your family understand your medical condition, at no cost. And for expecting mothers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama runs a free maternity program, called Baby Yourself, which makes a nurse available for questions during and after pregnancy, offers gifts and educational resources, shares information on breastfeeding and provides a free pregnancy-tracking app.
  5. When choosing a health-care provider, stay in-network. Most health insurance plans have a search-able online list of which health care providers are covered by your plan (known as “in-network”). Providers who aren’t on that list will likely cost more. To avoid surprise bills, stick with your network of providers.
  6. Choose generic medications when possible. If your doctor prescribes a brand-name medication, ask if it’s ok to go with the generic. Generic drugs are made with the same active ingredients, but according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they can cost 30 to 80 percent less. 
  7. Opt for the most sensible type of visit. Not all health care visits cost the same. Emergency room visits can be incredibly expensive (especially if the ER is out of network) and ambulance rides can also be costly. If you’re in a situation that is not an actual emergency, consider visiting an urgent-care facility, a walk-in clinic or make an appointment with your primary care provider; if you don’t need emergency transportation, consider your other options, whether it’s asking a friend, family member or neighbor for a ride, or arranging for a ride-share service or taxi. In addition, telehealth visits may be less expensive than an in-person visit. Find out the different costs as they apply to your plan, and choose the one that makes the most sense

Having health insurance should be helpful, and not a hindrance. To make sure it’s working in your best interest, it just takes a little homework and effort on your part. In the end, that could be better for your bank account—and your health.