by Kenneth Klein, Human Health Advocates

In 2017 brings a new insurance year cycle. There are several things you can do at this time to make your life easier down the road – avoid surprise bills and costs – and ensure that you are maximizing the benefits of your health insurance policy while minimizing the associated costs. For example:

networkcareUse In-Network Providers. Many of us are unaware of the fact that most health insurance policies contain different deductibles and co-pays for in-network providers and out-of-network providers, respectively. The cost of each is drastically different. This is the time to verify that your providers are, in fact, in-network (and, as to ongoing providers, still in-network). Sometimes providers migrate in and out of network based upon their contracts with the insurance companies. I would suggest the following:

• Verify and Document the status of your physicians. Contact each of your physician’s office manager or billing manager and verify that the practice is still in-network for 2017. Make a note of the person with whom you spoke, the date, time, and the substance of the conversation. Also, go to your insurance company website and cross – check by verifying with the tools there. Finally, take the time (yes it will take time but it’s well worth it) to call the customer service number on your health insurance card and get clarification that the provider is in–network. Again, it’s a great practice to take notes – the date, the time, the person with whom you spoke, and the substance of the conversation. Many insurance companies provide a reference number – be sure to ask for one. Each time you schedule an appointment with the provider, and you should “double check” prior to treatment.

Perform the same verification for your pharmacy. Pharmacies also leave and join the insurance company networks. For example, as of January 1, 2017, CVS, which had been – network for Florida Blue will no longer be recognized. Any prescriptions filled there by Florida blue member after that date will surely cost substantially more than those filled at an – network pharmacy.

More valuable tips will follow.

Human Health Advocates wishes each of you a healthy 2017 and beyond.