Growing up in a military family and then becoming a military spouse, choosing a healthcare plan has never been an option – all I had to do was figure out how to make the most of the military’s healthcare plan. All that changed last year when my husband retired from the military and transitioned to the civilian world. Suddenly we were faced with having to make so many choices that it just made our heads spin! Like do we keep our military healthcare plan and pay for it? Do we go with one of the plans his new employer offers? And then which one? Which option covers dental, too? Or should that be separate? Seriously, it just got overwhelming!
I wish I would have had these tips from Cigna earlier. They have managed to reduce the giant healthcare puzzle into three basic steps – PLAN, PREPARE, and PREVENT.
PLAN – Just like you plan for your mortgage, home upgrades and repairs, kids’ sports expenses and all the other daily costs of living, take the time to evaluate and plan for the KNOWN issues in your family’s health care. For example, do you know one of the kids will need braces in the next year? Does someone have an injury that requires physical therapy? Do you have a chronic illness? Estimate co-pays and deductible expenses and use those numbers as a point of comparison when deciding what healthcare plan will be best for your needs as well as to maximize the plan you currently have.
PREPARE – As much as you plan, there are things that just happen – like getting that call from your child’s coach saying she fell during practice and needs to go to the ER for x-rays, unexpected illnesses and life’s other little surprises. Know which hospital is the best match for your plan, know which local urgent care facility takes your insurance and what their hours are and check for additional resources like a nurses’ hotline, prescription refill services and such.
PREVENT – Take full advantage of any and all preventive medicine options your plan allows for like yearly check ups, mammograms, dental exams and more. It is much easier to make changes to your daily health routine now than it is to recover from a major surgery or chronic condition as a result of neglecting your own health needs.
Once you have the right healthcare plan for your family, be sure to still take the time every six months or so to re-evaluate your spending, health needs and coverage. In April when we had to choose our healthcare options, we chose to keep our military healthcare but had to select a dental plan. Overwhelmed by information, I opted for the plan I thought would work for us, just to find out when we really needed it that our choice of dentists and orthodontists was next to none in our area. Now I get to start the process over again, armed with new information and insight, so that during Open Enrollment I can change us to a plan that will actually work for us.
This video from Cigna is the first in a series of Health Plan Conversations that I found to be very informative.
Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Cigna. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.