It’s been said that nothing is free – even with health coverage.
But if you’ve already paid your premiums, now is the time to take advantage of all the 100% covered benefits.
Health plans are required to completely cover 16 free preventive services for adults, 22 for women, and 27 for children. That means you won’t pay any co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles on any of these 65 services.
Here’s how you can make the most of those free benefits.
Get your basics done.
Aim to get an all-around profile of your health with screenings or wellness counseling.
- Breast & colon cancer screenings
- Diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, STD, HPV, & depression screenings
- Vaccines for flu, pneumonia, measles, polio, meningitis
- Annual check-ups for women
- Counseling to quit smoking, lose weight, stop drinking, or on HIV and STDs, domestic violence, or breastfeeding.
Here is a complete list of services.
Tell your doctor
The next time you see your doctor, mention that you want to take advantage of your preventive care benefits.
If your doctor has record of you asking about them, they’ll not only be able to start you off, but they’ll see it in their notes whenever you come in and follow-up with you.
Basically, put it on the record: You’ll be more likely to get things done when someone else is part of the plan.
Know the limits
“Free” doesn’t necessarily mean, “always free.” The key is the word “preventive.”
If you’ve had a past medical history that now requires care that would normally be free, it doesn’t count.
For example, if you had a breast cyst, a mammogram would no longer be considered a preventive care benefit.
The same thing happens if the service is aimed at diagnosing a specific illness: if your doctor orders a colonoscopy because you’re having stabbing abdominal pain, the preventive care benefit wouldn’t apply.
Check your bills
For your health plan to treat a claim as a free preventive benefit, it needs to be coded with the right medical billing codes.
For example, a mammogram for a breast cancer patient will have a different code than a mammogram for a perfectly healthy woman.
Doctors and insurance companies make mistakes, so you should review your bills to make sure you weren’t charged. If you’re billed for a service you think should be free, call your health plan or ask your doctor about it.
This post first appeared on Mint.com.