BATON ROUGE, La. – It’s a New Year! Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds you that it’s a great time to review your health plan information so you’re be prepared to use your benefits all year long and understand what your out-of-pocket costs will likely be.
“It’s never too soon to start thinking about your healthcare needs, especially if you know you’ll be delivering a baby, having surgery or scheduling a screening or test in 2022,” said Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Jeremy Wigginton. “Check your health plan information and start looking into how any services you know you’ll need are covered, what you would pay for them, and whether the healthcare providers you plan to see and the facilities you plan to go to are in your network. Taking the time to look ahead can save you a lot of hassle.”
If you switched to a new health plan or Medicare plan, your coverage likely took effect on Jan. 1, 2022. A new calendar year is also when any changes to your covered services or cost-sharing (copays, coinsurance or deductibles) typically start. And, if your health plan has a deductible, it resets on Jan. 1 each year.
To start the year on a healthy note, Dr. Wigginton advises Louisianians to make plans now for their annual wellness visit. Adults should have at least one checkup with their healthcare providers each year. Adults age 65 and older or people who have long-term conditions like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure may need more frequent checkups. Children should have at least one annual checkup, too.
“I know it’s only January, but the year tends to fly by, and that yearly visit with your healthcare provider is very important for your overall health. It’s especially important if you had to put this checkup off for yourself or for your children in the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Wigginton said. “At this visit, your provider can check your numbers for key health indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol, ask you about your mental health and how you’re handling stress or life events, and let you know about any screenings, tests or immunizations you need, based on your age and health history.”
For example, Dr. Wigginton noted that the recommended age to begin colonoscopy screening has been lowered from 50 to 45 years old. “Your provider is the perfect resource to let you know about preventive screenings like this and work with you to stay on top of your health and catch any issues earlier, when treatment is most likely to succeed.”
Tips to Get the Most from Your Healthcare Coverage
Check your Summary of Benefits, either in booklet form or online. And, check your health insurance member ID card – this will have the information about your plan you’ll need to present when you see healthcare providers or get a prescription filled at the pharmacy. Make sure it’s correct. Your card is also where you can usually find the number to Customer Service for your health plan, to call if you have any questions. If you get your healthcare coverage through work, you can ask your employer for more information about any changes to your plan benefits for 2022.
Know what you’ll pay. Look at how healthcare services are covered on your plan and what your out-of-pocket costs could be – that varies by plan, and it includes deductible, cost share and copays. If you know in advance what your payment is likely to be, you can plan ahead for any health expenses you anticipate.
Shop around for healthcare services. Blue Cross has a tool called SmartShopper that lets you see what you’d pay for hundreds of common procedures and screenings with different providers near you. Most other health plans offer similar services. Taking some time to shop for procedures, screenings or tests you know you’ll need this year can save you money, so explore your options.
Stay in your network. Generally, you will pay less out of pocket when you see in-network providers or go to hospitals and clinics that are in your network. Make sure any places you plan to go for care or any healthcare providers you plan to see are in network for your plan. If they are not, look for providers in network. It’s also a good idea to review drug coverage for your health plan and make sure any medications you take are included.
Look into wellness programs or services. Many New Year’s resolutions involve our health. Blue Cross and most other health insurers have programs to help you get more exercise, eat healthy or quit smoking and using tobacco. Many of these services are available at very low or no cost to you. Check into what’s available to you so you can start the New Year off on the right foot.
If you do not get insurance through an employer and do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, keep in mind that the Open Enrollment Period on Healthcare.Gov lasts until Jan. 15. You can create an account to shop for coverage and see how much financial assistance you can get to help you pay for your plan. Coverage on the health plan you buy will begin on Feb. 1.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on the COVID-19 vaccines and other health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.