Using insurance benefits before end of year

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From release

During this time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in holiday planning and forget to take advantage of your insurance benefits.  Individuals should direct their attention to outstanding healthcare needs and take full advantage of paid-up deductibles or available funds in Flexible Spending Accounts.

“In considering their healthcare needs, people should also consider the best strategy for using their available health insurance plan benefits,” said Holt Smith, Springs Memorial Hospital’s Chief Financial Officer.  “Now is the time to take advantage of unused benefits to complete outstanding treatments or recommended tests or procedures. 

Most health insurance plans have a deductible requirement – a predetermined amount of healthcare expense that must be covered before the plan begins paying the majority of (if not all) remaining expenses. Smith says it’s crucial to know how close you are to meeting your deductible – or if you’ve already met it “because once you reach that threshold, you have a limited window of opportunity to obtain healthcare services and have the bulk of that expense covered by your plan.”

Remember: a new year brings a new deductible, Smith said.

The close of 2017 also affects individuals who have Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) – which are pre-tax dollars set aside primarily for health-related expenses. The Internal Revenue Service requires those funds to be spent or forfeited by Dec. 31.  It’s a “use it or lose it” proposition, says Smith.

If you have been putting off scheduling care, such as an annual check-up, allergy testing, or knee-replacement surgery, it would be wise to check your deductible status and your FSA balance to see if there’s money to be saved, Smith said. 

It’s important to schedule services promptly so that there is enough time to have the test or elective procedure done before the end of the year.