Max Out Your Health Benefits

With the end of the year coming on fast, now is a good time to strategize how to maximize the health benefits on your medical and dental insurance policies for the coming year. The goal is to not leave any money or health benefits on the table.

The first thing to do is assess whether your health insurance policies are on a calendar year or a 12-month cycle. If your medical and dental policies are on a calendar year, it’s probably too late to schedule major procedures before December 31, although you might be able to slip in another cleaning or an office visit for a physical. What you can do is start planning for 2010. If you or anyone in your family who is covered by your health insurance policy has been putting off an expensive procedure, schedule it for early in the New Year so that you can max out your deductible in one fell swoop. This will mean that a greater percentage of all subsequent procedures in 2010 are covered by your insurer.

If you’re on a 12-month cycle and the end of the cycle is a few months off, now is the time to schedule any medical or dental care you’ve put off. Pay special attention to capped benefits such as dental insure plans. You can schedule part of a procedure in the last month or two or the cycle and complete it in the first month of the next cycle to take advantage of two year’s worth of benefits.

It’s a good time to review your policies, too. Did you overlook any free or low co-pay benefits in 2009? Many people forget that their health insurance policy entitles them to an annual physical and routine preventive procedures and tests. If you missed out this year, schedule those freebie and low-cost benefits early in 2010.

You still have time to max out your flexible savings account (FSA) benefits before year’s end. Depending on your policy, you may have a grace period until March 15. Check with your employer. If there is no grace period, get out your receipts, add up what you’ve spent and stock up quick. Some of the last-minute things you can buy include over-the-counter medications, smoking cessation programs, hearing aids and batteries, eyeglasses and any copays you made during the year. If your receipts exceed what you declared for your FSA, make a note to increase the amount next year. Contributions are contingent on a number of factors, including age, income and your employer’s plan.


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