1. See a doctor if you’ve met your deductible. The average deductible has almost doubled since 2006, reaching $1,135 in 2013 according to reports from Kaiser Family Foundation. If you’ve hit yours this year or you’re close, schedule elective procedures ASAP, while your insurer will pick up most of the tab. If not, put you’re your appointment until 2014 when the cost can be applied to your presumably even larger deductible.
2. …or a dentist if you are below the max. Dental plans don’t usually pay out more than $1,500 to $2,000 a year, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. With the cost of major procedures, like root canal, crowns, or even a deep, full mouth cleaning, its easy to max that out in no time. Usually these procedures involve multiple appointments, so you can space them out between the end of this year and the beginning of next, to get the most from your coverage.
3. Don’t give up on tax breaks. Starting in 2013, medical expenses must exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income before you can write them off against your federal taxes. That is up from 7.5% last year. States are different; CA is still at 7.5% NJ is only 2%. So save those receipts!
4. Grab your wellness rewards at work. At more that a quarter of large firms, employees can earn gift cards, trips, or even a few hundred dollars in cash by participating in wellness programs, such as screening that measure your weight and cholesterol or questionnaires about your health habits, and those rewards run out a the end of the year. Some firms may reward you by adding to a health saving account.
5. Check your FSA. Flexible spending accounts are usually “use it or lose it”. Some employers will give you until March 15 to spend the money according to reports by Wage Works. But usually you forfeit what is left in your account on Dec. 31. In October the Treasure Department revised the rules to let you carry over $500 but only if you don’t get the grace period and your company changes the plan in time. Since you can put $2,500 into your FSA, you could have a balance to spend now.
With so much attention on changing health insurance it is important to know what you have NOW and make the most of it. Many insurance policies DON’T cover acupuncture, but more will be offering it, especially in the states where acupuncture is an essential health benefit. Either way, if you have a Flexible Spending account, NOW is a great time to get started with an acupuncturist. There is usually an one time intake fee to consider and many acupuncturists include bodywork for treatment of pain.