You may be making a list and checking it twice this time of year. But as you plan your holiday gifts and gatherings, don’t forget about a gift you can give yourself. That’s making sure you are up-to-date on your health screenings and checkups.
Your Yearly Health Screenings and Exams
When it comes to taking care of your health, it’s good to have a plan. If you haven’t had your annual exam, plan it now.
An annual exam is when your doctor talks with you about your health. You’ll discuss your risk factors and your family medical history. The doctor will listen to your heart and lungs. You’ll have your blood checked for cholesterol, diabetes and other potential health problems.
Routine screenings like this are important. They can help spot a potential problem before it becomes a serious health issue. And preventive screenings are a big part of fighting disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting the right health services, screenings and treatments improves your chances of living a longer, healthier life.
Your age, health, family history, lifestyle choices (such as what you eat and how active you are) and other factors help determine the health care you need and how often you need it.
Don’t Overlook Eyes and Teeth
When was the last time you had an eye exam or visited the dentist? If you can’t remember, it’s probably been too long. And with others also trying to get in before the end of the year, don’t wait to make your appointment.
If you have a dental plan, make sure you know what it covers in a year. If you expect you will need fillings, crowns or root canals, you may want to plan them in the current year to use your available benefits. Some people do one procedure in December and the next in January to break the treatment up over two plan years.
Based on your age and health, you may need a yearly eye exam. Some people with health risks such as diabetes, eye trauma or surgery, or a family history of glaucoma may need them more often.
Money Saving Options
Looking at your health benefits may even save you money. If you have met your health plan’s deductible this year, you might want to have an exam or procedure you’ve been putting off because of the price tag. When 2018 arrives, your deductible will reset and you will pay more out of pocket for the same care.
Don’t forget about Flexible Spending Accounts, or FSAs. Many people take advantage of these employer-sponsored options that allow them to set aside part of their pre-tax earnings for qualified medical expenses. If you have one, this is a good time to review the amount you’ve spent and check to see if you have a balance to use.
Employers that offer an FSA can allow you to roll over up to $500 of your unused balance or offer a grace period to use the money in the next year. Check with your company’s benefits department to learn more.
A Health Spending Account, or HSA, also allows you to accumulate pre-tax money you can use to pay for certain health care costs. You can roll the money over from year to year. That means the money can stay in the account for you to use in the future. Find out more about FSAs and get some HSA basics.
Give yourself the gift of good health
Call a doctor in your plan’s network to schedule your yearly exams and screenings. You can use the online Provider Finder® tool to find a doctor in your network. To access Provider Finder, log in to Blue Access for MembersSM and click on the Find a Doctor or Hospital tab. You can also get details on your benefits under the My Coverage tab.
*Preventive services at no cost applies only to members enrolled in non-grandfathered health plans. You may have to pay all or part of the cost of preventive care if your health plan is grandfathered. To find out if your plan is grandfathered or non-grandfathered, call the customer service number on your member ID card.
Sources: Regular Checkups Are Important, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017; 4 Smart Year-End Strategies for Maximizing Your Health Benefits, Money, Dec. 17, 2014; How Often Should I Have an Eye Exam, Prevent Blindness, 2017; How FSAs and HSAs Ease the Pain of Healthcare Costs, Consumer Reports, Sept. 25, 2016