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I picked a new plan for this year. . . now what?


By Kate Awsumb
August 1, 2017

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You dug into the research, ran all the numbers then signed up for a new health plan. Your member ID card arrives in the mail.

So…now what? Here are seven things you should do on day one to manage your health costs better this year (psst: some will save money!).

7 things to do with your new health plan:

1. Create an online account.

If your insurance company gives you access to your account online, set it up as soon as you can (usually once you have a member ID number). You can review the details of your plan, search for covered doctors and use cost calculators and other tools to make money-savings decisions.

2. Get cozy with the basics.

Log onto that member account and refresh yourself on your plan’s basics:

  • How much you’ll have to pay before your plan starts to help (your deductible)
  • What fees you’ll pay for going to the doctor and filling prescriptions (copays)
  • The absolute most you’d have to pay for covered care this year (your out-of-pocket maximum)

Review the list of services your plan covers (your Summary of Benefits and Coverage) so you know what you’ll pay for specific services like counseling or surgeries. There may be stuff in there you had no idea was covered.

Hey HealthPartners members: You can do that here.

3. Put your support team on speed dial.

Save your insurance company’s key phone numbers – like member services and the nurse advice line – into your phone so they’re always a tap away. You never want to be scrambling to find that info when you’re standing in line at the pharmacy or aren’t sure if a 10 p.m. fever requires a trip to urgent care.

4. Find a go-to doctor.

There’s nothing more stressful than getting sick and finding out later the doc you saw wasn’t covered by your benefits. Log on to your account, and find the doctor or network search tool. Check whether your current doctor is covered by your insurance. If not, look for a new doctor who’s covered to help you save money. Most plans give a discount for using doctors that are part of a “network”. These are doctors that meet quality requirements but are lower in cost. You usually pay less when you use these doctors.

5. Get an app for that.

Find out whether your insurance company offers a mobile app, and download it now. It’ll make checking your account balances, finding a doctor nearby and contacting the company easy when you’re on-the-go.

6. Make a plan.

Speaking of apps, use yours when you need to find the closest urgent care or emergency room you’d speed to. Call the insurance company if you need help figuring out where to go. Many insurance companies also have a nurse line you can call if you have a health question or need medical advice.

7. Ask about perks.

From gym discounts to help managing your asthma, your health insurance company may do more than just help pay for your care. Don’t miss out on any of those free perks. Log on to your member account or call member services to find out what they offer.


HealthPartners members:

You get free health programs, discounts and money off your gym membership. Check out the details here.


You're reading the "Getting Started With Your Plan" series.

Have a health plan but not sure what to do next? This series can help you get started.

Part 1: I picked a new plan for this year...now what?

Part 2: How to figure out what your health insurance plan covers

Part 3: 8 questions to ask before setting up your HSA

About Kate Awsumb

Kate Awsumb is a journalist and communications consultant for HealthPartners who has worked with many government, nonprofit, and private organizations to make health information easy to understand and easy to use. Her writing has been featured in the Huffington Post, Men’s Health, StarTribune, Minnesota Parent and the Twin Cities Moms Blog. She holds master’s degrees in health communication and public health, making her a perfect fit for the Health Insurance Help blog.Kate believes health is so much more than not being sick – it keeps us doing what we love, traveling to new places and chasing our kids around the backyard.When she’s not working, you’ll find Kate running, hiking, biking, rowing, snowshoeing, or otherwise on the move with her husband, young daughter and Boston terrier.

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