Make Benefits Work

Insurance companies are in constant competition with each other, to secure the maximum benefits, for their clients. The benefits available to you under one plan, may not be available in the other, but could be substantially different and more appropriate for a change in situation, with regards to your health.

Making your health care plan's benefits work for you is a necessity, that you can't ignore. It is these benefits, which prevent you from stressing yourself out, in event of any serious mishap with you or your family. Keep in mind the following pointers:

- Carefully search and compare different health schemes, before settling on one. There are many private insurance companies, struggling for your attention with plans that can be completely useless, in case of an accident. Settle on a plan, that fits your current and projected needs.

- Don't just settle on a plan, because it offers low premium rates. Plans with low premiums have high deductibles, and it is important to find out exactly how high, the deductible can go. Also check, if the insurance covers the costs of preventive care such as dental, monthly check ups or vision tests. This will let you get a good idea of how much you'll have to spend out of your own pocket, when the time comes.

- As with health insurance policies, the quality of medical care can vary. Choose a hospital or doctor, with a good track record, offering higher quality services than others. Check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publication, "Your Guide to Choosing Quality Health Care", for excellent references.

- Ask your plan administrator to give you a copy, of the plan's Summary Plan Description (SPD). This document contains all the information you'll need, to know about your legal rights and benefits, under the Employee Income Security Act (ERISA).

- Your health insurance can change if there is a change in your family's status, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In any event, such as child birth, marriage, death or divorce, always be sure to review your benefits before proceeding. You never know how, the benefits might apply in such cases.

- In case of a layoff, or if you are turning to self employment, you can still continue to be a member of the group health insurance scheme, that your employer setup under the, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act(COBRA). This acts as a safety net, while you search for better options in your health insurance plan. You can also continue to use HIPAA, when changing jobs, especially if you have a medical condition.

- Plan ahead for your retirement. Your family's coverage can change, when you retire and this can severely affect your life, post retirement. Keep track of all government medical programs, to decrease liability on insurance.

- Always be aware that some companies, can illegally drop clients or refuse to pay, when needed. Knowing how to file an appeal, can set you on the fast rack to getting your rightful money, back.

- Lastly, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and most insurance agents will reward you with lower premiums on your scheme.

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