The new year is here. Have you decided what your new year’s resolutions will be? If one of yours is to get more organized, don’t overlook organizing your health information.
Making sure you understand how your benefits work and keeping track of important information can help save you time and money and make it easier for you to get care. Taking a little time to get your information organized now will make things easier all year long.
Here are five steps to take to gather your information and get it organized and ready for easy use.
1. Take a Look at Your Benefits
The terms of your health plan may have changed from last year. You may have picked a different plan when you renewed your coverage. Or you could have changed the amount you pay out of pocket. It’s good to review the details of your benefits so you’ll know what to expect when you need care.
Start with checking your copay, deductible, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. You can find information specific to your plan in your online member account, Blue Access for MembersSM (BAMSM).
Copay: Your copay is the amount you pay for an office visit. It is separate from any added amount you may have to pay. What is your copay? Has it changed since your last plan year? You can find your copay amount in BAM. It is also listed on your member ID card. If your card has two numbers, that means you’ll pay the lower amount for some visits and the larger amount for others — depending on the type of provider you are seeing.
Deductible: Your deductible is the amount you pay before your health plan starts paying for your covered care. For example, if your deductible is $1,000, your plan doesn’t start paying for some services until you’ve paid $1,000 out of pocket.
Coinsurance: Many plans also have a coinsurance amount that kicks in after you’ve met your deductible. You’ll see it listed as a percentage, such as 70 percent/30 percent. That example means your health plan pays 70 percent and you pay 30 percent of covered services when you use a provider in your health plan’s network. If you go out of your network, you may pay more.
Out-of-pocket max: Your out-of-pocket maximum is the most you have to pay for expenses during a plan year. Once you reach the maximum, your plan will start paying 100 percent of the bills for covered charges. For example, if you’re dealing with an illness or injury, you may meet your deductible amount before your treatment is over. If you haver coinsurance, you’ll still pay some of the bills until you reach your out-of-pocket max. Then your plan will pay all of the bill.
The deductible, copay and coinsurance amounts you’ve paid during the year are added up to reach your plan’s out-of-pocket max. Note: Your out-of-pocket max only goes to the end of your plan year. It starts over again at $0 on the first day of your next plan year.
2. Check Your Network
If you get services out of your health plan’s network, it can cost you more money. So before you go to the same doctor or pharmacy you used last year, check to make sure they are still in your network. This is really important if you haven’t needed to use them in a while. Our contracts with providers renew at different times. If a provider leaves your plan’s network or you are in a new health plan, you’ll want to take steps to find providers covered by your plan.
A good resource for checking your network is our Provider Finder® tool. To use Provider Finder, log in to BAM and go to the Doctors and Hospitals tab.
3. Add Us to Your Contacts List
The customer service phone number for your plan is on your member ID card, but you can also add the number to your contacts lists. When you can’t find the information you need in BAM, call us.
If you have some benefits with another insurer, such as vision or dental coverage, make sure you have that information, too.
4. Create a Health Record
It’s also a good idea to keep all your health care information in one place you can access with ease:
- Names and phone numbers of your health care providers, including doctors, dentists and pharmacies
- The information found on your member ID card and other insurers’ cards
- Emergency contact numbers
- A list of current medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements
- Details about any condition you have. Do you wear contacts? Have a pacemaker? A chronic health issue like asthma? A serious illness like cancer? Those details may be needed if you ever need emergency care.
- Known allergies
- Recent surgeries or stays in a hospital, including if you were given anesthesia
5. Schedule Your Doctor Visits
You need to have a wellness visit every year where your doctor checks your overall health. Scheduling it at the same time every year helps you remember it’s time to get on the books for your exam. Doctors’ schedules fill up quickly at the beginning of the year, so why not set up your visit now?
If you do it early in the year, you and your doctor can make a plan for things you can do throughout the year to improve your health. And most annual wellness visits are covered at no cost to you*, so you don’t have to worry about money right after the holidays.
Take some time now to learn about your benefits and get your health information organized. It’s a benefit you’ll have all year long.
Sources: Medical Records: Getting Organized, Johns Hopkins Medicine; Resources for Creating a Personal Health Record, Harvard Health Publishing, January 2009; Wellness tools for population health need radical simplicity, experts say, HealthcareIT News, Oct. 19, 2018; Different Chronic Illnesses Demand Different Connected Health Strategies, HealthcareIT News, May 19, 2015; 5 Tools to Track Digital Health, University of Illinois at Chicago
*Preventive services at no cost applies only to members enrolled in non-grandfathered health plans. You may have to pay all or part of the cost of preventive care if your health plan is grandfathered. To find out if your plan is grandfathered or non-grandfathered, call the customer service number on your member ID card.