How to manage a high-deductible health plan
8 tips from our member services rep for getting the most out of your HealthPartners high-deductible plan
So you’ve selected a high-deductible health plan, or HDHP. You’re not alone. More members are choosing HDHP plans every year. If you’re new to one, figuring out how to make the most of it can be a bit tricky at first.
For starters, you might be wondering: What is an HDHP? This is one of the more common questions I get in Member Services at HealthPartners.
What is an HDHP?
An HDHP is a type of health plan. It usually has lower premiums and higher deductibles. This means you’ll pay less each month for insurance and more out-of-pocket when you receive care.
The upside? Preventive care is still covered at 100 percent on these plans. Once you hit your deductible, your health plan will start to cover the cost of your other care.
Unlike other health plans, most HDHPs can be combined with a health savings account, or HSA. This is money you can use before taxes to cover medical costs. Sometimes, employers even make contributions to your HSA.
An HSA is your money, and you can use it as you see fit for health care expenses (within IRS guidelines). The IRS sets a limit on the amount that can be contributed to your HSA each year. But the nice thing about having an HSA is that you can build it up over the years. I’ve seen some people open an account when they’re young, and then use the money when they start a family of their own. You can use HSA funds on yourself, your spouse or your dependents.
For a lot of people, HDHPs are a cost-effective option. Premiums are low, and you still get coverage if you need serious medical care. And there is a maximum out-of-pocket expense, which is the most you’d ever pay in a year for your health care. This can make budgeting easier.
Need a little more help understanding all of these health insurance terms? Look no further.
With an HDHP, you will be paying more for your care, especially at the beginning. This can feel a little overwhelming. But the good news is that with a little planning, there are a lot of ways to save on your health care costs.
3 ways to save on prescriptions
1. Choose generics or formulary drugs.
According to the Association for Accessible Medicines, 87 percent of patients save money when switching to a generic alternative. Many generic drugs have the same key ingredients as brand name drugs, but at a lower cost. And with almost every plan, there will be more plan coverage for the drugs that are listed on the formulary (also called: the preferred drug list) than there will be for drugs not on that list.
2. Research the cost of your medicines.
Did you know you cut costs on your medicines by researching pharmacies? The cost of medicines can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. You can also often find savings by ordering through the mail, or getting different amounts (like a 90-day supply instead of 30).
HealthPartners members: A quick search on our HealthPartners prescription shopping tool can show you which pharmacies offer the drugs you need, for the lowest cost. And you can even transfer your prescriptions to the lower cost pharmacy all online.
3. Schedule a Medication Therapy Management (MTM) appointment.
Chances are, your health plan offers some type of MTM support. These are specially trained pharmacists who can help you find lower cost alternatives for your medicines. They can also make sure you’re feeling your best and that your medicines are working the way they should be.
Learn more about HealthPartners’ MTM service. HealthPartners covers the cost of this service for most members who have pharmacy coverage with us.
There are MTM pharmacists who work at several of our HealthPartners and Park Nicollet clinic locations, too. You can meet with them even if you have health insurance through an insurer other than HealthPartners. First though, make sure to check with your insurance company to see if your plan covers that appointment.
2 ways to save on medical visits or procedures
1. Look into what your visit or procedure will cost – before you go.
We never want our members to feel blindsided by a bill. Research from the Minnesota Department of Health found nearly 8-fold price differences for care at Minnesota hospitals. Most health plans now offer tools to help research costs. For example, HealthPartners has online and mobile tools that let you search for specific doctors, clinics or hospitals and see the estimated out-of-pocket costs for many different health care services. The information is personalized based on your plan and benefits. And, you can view that alongside information about the quality of the provider.
2. Consider different types of care.
A trip to urgent care can cost nearly $200. And the Emergency Department can cost even more. Sometimes, these options may not be the best fit for your needs. And they aren’t always the most convenient for common illnesses, like a sinus infection either. To save money (and often time!), you may be able to consider other options like virtuwell.com or Park Nicollet’s SmartCare Clinic.
3 HealthPartners programs for your health and well-being that can also save you money
1. Beating the Blues | Feel more in control of your life with online support
Did you know stress can make you sick? In fact, stress is a main reason for 60-80 percent of doctor visits. The good news? We offer a free online program to help you build healthy thinking skills. Beating the Blues is offered to all HealthPartners patients and members. The program is designed to help you better manage stress and anxiety.
2. Frequent Fitness | Reward your body and your wallet
Getting up and going to the gym isn’t always easy. And footing the bill of a gym membership can be tough, too. But we want to reward your hard work. That’s why HealthPartners' Frequent Fitness program offers reimbursement to eligible members who visit the gym 12 or more times a month. In fact, eligible members can receive up to $20 back each month, just for working out.
3. Healthy Discounts | Show your member ID card to save at participating retailers
Many health insurance plans offer discounts on products and services that help keep you healthy. At HealthPartners, our Healthy Discounts program provides a number of savings to help keep our members healthy. These discounts can apply to exercise equipment, classes, hearing aids, spa and wellness services and much more. Check with your health plan to see what savings may be available for you!
Navigating your health plan can be tricky. But that’s why health insurers have member services departments! We are here to help and I always encourage people to call in if they’re unsure about a certain expense or aspect of their plan.
HealthPartners members: You can always find more information regarding your plan by logging onto your HealthPartners online account. Or, you can call HealthPartners Member Services at the number on the back of your member ID card. Representatives are available Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. CT.
About Kate Sahnow
Kate Sahnow is a HealthPartners Member Services leader supporting MNsure members through phone calls, email, chat, and walk-ins. Connecting members to support programs so they can achieve their best health is what makes her job so rewarding. Outside of work, Kate loves spending time with her husband, son Ethan, and daughter Cora. They are passionate about sustainability, own two electric vehicles, and enjoy taking yearly vacations to Ely, Minnesota.