In honor of Valentine’s Day, pour some wine, turn on the music and let’s talk benefits.
Okay – it’s not that romantic – but it’s got to be done. After all, many of you already vowed, “In sickness and in health.”
Assuming you’ve already chosen a plan that works for your family by comparing costs and networks, let’s hit on what the on-going conversation should be to avoid some not-so-romantic surprises.
Pulse check your finances
One huge benefit of being on a family plan is that all the health-related expenses of you and your family members count toward the deductible in aggregate. But, if your family hasn’t yet met the deductible on your plan, make sure you have enough money stashed away in an emergency fund to cover the gap.
Since healthcare costs are on the rise, understanding deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses should be a regular conversation to make sure your emergency fund is on-pace with rising costs. And remember, if one of you incurs a medical bill, both of you are responsible.
Here’s a tip: If you’re still building that emergency fund and aren’t confident you could come up with the deductible in an emergency, look into voluntary benefits next time open-enrollment comes around. These are extra benefits – like accident, critical illness or hospital indemnity – that supplement your health insurance and pay you a lump sum in a qualifying event. And that lump sum can be spent however you want.
Invest in your health to save money in the long run
Many families try to save on healthcare spending by delaying a doctor’s visit or foregoing preventative care. This can actually be more costly in the long run, because regular exams and preventative care can help spot health concerns before they get more serious – and costly. Plus, spotting problems early might give you enough time to correct the issue, before it ever becomes a larger medical concern.
So, take advantage of check-ups and regular maintenance. Saving on a co-pay isn’t worth the risk or cost of a bigger medical condition.
In sickness and in health
As life happens, the wellness of family members can be an indicator of possible medical challenges you, your partner or your children could face. If we learned one thing in school, it’s that history repeats itself.
That being said, it’s smart to review each other’s family medical history every so often. With that knowledge, determine if you’re adequately covered for conditions that could be passed down. These conditions can be as simple as needing glasses or complex as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. Use your medical history as a guide for conditions you want to be covered for on your health plan. And again, voluntary benefits can help fill in the gaps for things like dental, vision or critical illness.
The great thing about having regular conversations about your benefits is that you and your partner can nudge each other along in your quests to stay healthy. By understanding the full scope of the costs, care and benefits, you’re likely to make smarter decisions about your overall health and financial wellness.