This year, make the most of your family benefits

Your family benefits are an important part of your compensation package. Along with your employer’s share of premium, you or your spouse are making a hefty contribution per pay period.  Are you getting the most value out of these benefits?
This year, take advantage of the following little to no-cost offerings:
1)  Preventive Care Visits
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medical plans are now required to include routine exams and screenings at no cost to you when using a participating provider.  Your Dental and Vision programs also provide annual exams at no cost or for a low copayment/deductible. You’ve likely got your new calendar up by now.  Make your appointments today as it can often take a few months to get in.
2)  Telemedicine
If your kids are like mine, they only get sick at the beginning of a long weekend or in the middle of the night. Rather than waiting for an available doctor’s office appointment or a visit to urgent care, I’ve turned to my plan’s telemedicine offering. This program allows me to visit face-to-face visit with a physician via my laptop or cell phone. I’ve visited LiveHealth Online three times since September for less than an office visit copayment.  Each time a prescription was called in and we were on the road to recovery within hours.  No more sitting in a waiting room with a sick kid for me.  Teladoc offers similar services.  Check your plan for provider and low copayment details.
3)  Wellness Programs
Let your health plan help you with your New Year’s resolution.  Or, at least help you get it back on track!  When you visit your plan’s website, you’ll find numerous programs to help you with your overall health and wellness.  You’ll get the help you need to reach your target weight, to stop smoking, to reduce stress or to help manage chronic disease. If you are not using these healthy living resources, you are leaving health care dollars on the table.
4)  Employee Assistance Programs
Also known as EAPs, these plans provide confidential help and resources 24/7 for the entire family.  EAPs are there to assist when life throws you a curve.  Call them when you are having trouble coping, when you are having financial or legal issues, can’t find child care or need assistance taking care of elderly parents.   If you ever need help and you don’t know where to start, call your EAP. It shouldn’t cost you a cent. Add their phone number to your contact list today.
5)  Will preparation
Many employees take comfort in knowing that they have employer sponsored Life Insurance.  But, many employees do not review the plan.  I mean, who really wants to prepare for the unexpected?  As uncomfortable as the subject is, it’s important to plan for what happens to your children in the event of your death.  Make time to review your policy this year.  Many providers include will preparation services at no cost.  I took care of mine last year and frankly, it took a load off.
6)  Pre-tax Offerings
If you have an FSA Health Care account, use each and every cent by the end of the Plan Year. Some plans allow for a rollover of up to $500 and some offer a grace period.  But, if you do not use the hard earned dollars you’ve set aside, they will eventually be forfeited.  I like to refer people to to spend down remaining balances on everyday items, in the event traditional medical, dental and vision expenses were not incurred.  You should also be taking advantage of the tax saving opportunities offered by your employer’s Dependent Care and Parking and Transit plans if they apply to your situation.
Your family benefits are made up of more than just doctor visit copayments.  So, review your 2016 plans and look for ways to get the most bang for your buck.

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