Getting the most out of Employer Health Benefits
If you are one of the dwindling few that still get healthcare benefits as part of your jobs compensation package, consider yourself lucky. But with so many jobs that offer benefits changing them or cutting back on medical benefits, even if you have access to heath insurance at work, you may not be getting the most out of them The Department of Labor Benefits Security Administration suggests several ways to make sure you are getting the most out of you employer paid health benefits.
The purpose of the EBSA is to oversee employer based health benefits, and to create laws that recognize your rights as an employee receiving such health benefits. As such the agency says that most consumers are not even aware of the protections the agency has fought to obtain for them when it comes to health insurance provided by employers. Even though your employer is giving you access to the health benefits, or paying for them entirely, you as the employee receiving the benefits have rights and options. The Agency encourages all employees to know and exercise these rights, to make sure they are getting the most they can out of employer provided health benefits.
Know that you have options and the right to explore them. Many times an employer offers different group affordable health plans or different types of policies within the same plan. Take the time to look at and fully understand your options and select the plan that is right for you and your family. Do not just accept a plan that is selected for you by your employer, especially if you have to pay for part of the benefit. Remember to look at all of the details of a plan, "cheaper" does not always mean it is the best buy for you. Be aware of deductibles, copays and other out of pocket expenses, and fit the plan to the needs of your true budget. Check to see if a given healthcare plan offers compensation for wellness or fitness programs.
The EBSA reminds consumers to also check for quality of the participating hospitals and healthcare providers in a healthcare plan, not all hospitals and doctors offer equal quality of care. You can find out more about how to examine the quality of care by going to the website of the US Department of Health and Human Services and downloading their brochure, Your Guide to Choosing Quality HealthCare.
And finally the EBSA recommends that you obtain a copy of your health plan's Summary Plan Description, from your employer's benefits administrator. You have a right to a copy of this document and it contains a wealth if information about your policy and your rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the federal law that protects your health insurance benefits.