5 Reasons Health Insurance Doesn't Have to Suck

Health insurance ever made you this happy?

Yeah, we didn't think so.

Let’s face facts: having insurance is great, but using it is not always great. Opinions of our health insurance can be boiled down to the following:

After forking over premiums for months, when you finally get care you might get hit with one of the following surprises: your doctor is out of network, your medicine isn’t covered, your clinic charges like a hospital, or your Tylenol costs an absurd $40 per pill.

But wait: insurance doesn't have to suck.

Here are five ways to up the convenience and lower the shock and costs:

1. Seize your complimentary annual wellness visit provided by the Affordable Care Act

Through the ACA, the various tests and screenings that make up an “annual wellness visit” are 100% covered. You won’t pay a dime. This includes general preventive services, STI screenings, and wellness services for women. Yes, the cost probably got lumped into your premiums, so if you don’t take advantage of it, you’re losing out on your health and your wallet.  

The catch: The wellness visit must completed by a doctor or clinic in your network to be free. Also, if more tests or medications need to be ordered that are above and beyond a general wellness visit, then you might have to pay for them out of pocket, so make sure to ask your doctor what’s free and what’s not.

2. Save your insurance company’s customer support number in your contacts as ‘BFF’.

Some insurance companies list ‘low call-volume’ times directly in their contact pages while others offer a ‘scheduled call’ feature where you specify a good time for a rep to call you. You could also try a direct message on Twitter. This should be saved as a last resort, but it can sometimes result in inquiries being answered more quickly.  

The catch: Keep your phone charged if you’re braving the wait times, and have your insurance card in hand. The less you get frustrated with the robot, the more patient you’ll be with the human rep.  

Your best option? Just give us a call... our customer support team will sit through the hold music for you! :)

Tip 3: Spend 15 minutes getting cozy with your insurance company’s website.

This might sound like a recipe for a bad date, but it’s crucial: you never know when you’ll need the urgent care finder, drug formularies, or discount programs. The care finder is a good way to call ahead and ask if the practice is independent or hospital-based, which helps you avoid surprise charges. Drug formularies are good for checking if your drug (or its generic version) is covered. And, often times, your insurance company has additional discounts on things like gym memberships or pet insurance that you probably have never been aware of!  

PS: To avoid seeing out-of-network doctors and getting hit with big bills, skip the insurance company's site altogether and use our doctor search!

4. Explore Tele-Health options through your insurer.

It sounds futuristic, but new Tele-health companies offer 24/7 access to doctors who can not only diagnose conditions, but can also prescribe medicines and send them to your local pharmacy. For non-emergency medical needs, this can be more convenient than waiting for an appointment at your doctor’s office. The cost is also often less or equivalent to a doctor’s visit. Look into companies like Doctor on Demand, HealthSpot and Teladoc (more are coming online).  

The catch: For complicated conditions, you might get referred to your primary care doc and end up paying twice. Also, many insurance websites have a (free) nursing call line that can help you decide if you need to come in to see a doctor or not.

5. Get Non-emergent labs and imaging done at a retail lab or imaging location.

This last point is controversial, but still worth looking into. For tests that don’t need to be completed immediately during your doctor visit, you have the option of completing them through private imaging facilities and companies like AnyLabTestNow. They offer walk-in, convenient hours without parking issues, and can cost less when covered through your insurance.  

The catch: Some doctors might repeat the tests if you don’t share your intel. Make sure to talk to your doctor (sounds cliché, but it’s crucial) about which tests would be appropriate to be completed at a separate location. Tests might include a basic blood test, thyroid panel, A1c test or Vit B12, or imaging like X-Rays and CAT scans.

Get Covered and Go.

With a little bit of planning and awareness of your options, using insurance does not have to suck! If all else fails, just reach out to Stride Health. We’ll take care of you, with you.