Health Plan Perks You Probably Aren’t Taking Advantage OfMay 16, 2018
Health Plan Perks You Probably Aren’t Taking Advantage Of
Employers want healthy employees. They are happier, less stressed, more productive, and have fewer absences - all things that help reduce costs. That's why many companies offer free wellness benefits that encourage workers to prioritize their health.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was also designed with your health in mind, and made it a requirement for health care plans to offer preventive care services at no cost.
Here's what you should know about these sometimes hidden perks from your health plan and employer.
Many of the preventive services offered through your plan are 100 percent free — you won't even need to pay a copayment or coinsurance.
Here are some examples of what's often covered:
- Screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, type 2 diabetes, lung cancer, obesity, and HIV
- Immunization vaccines
- Diet counseling
- Breastfeeding support for women
- Screenings and counseling for pregnant women
- Behavioral assessments for children
Programs Through Your Employer
Those employer-based health offerings are often referred to as "wellness programs." What's offered varies from company to company, but here are some examples of the types of programs that may be available:
- Gym membership reimbursement
- Health coaching
- Diabetes management programs
- Weight loss programs
- Quit-smoking programs
- Employee assistance programs (EAPs) focused on behavioral health, mental health, or substance abuse. The American Psychiatric Association reports 97 percent of companies with more than 5,000 employees offer EAPs, but fewer than 5 percent of employees actually use the valuable resources offered by these programs.
What’s in It for You
Taking advantage of preventive care benefits can be extraordinarily helpful. It could even save your life if you learn about a health issue in its early stages when there's plenty of time for treatment.
One 2017 study, for instance, found being covered for preventive care through the ACA resulted in an 8 percent increase in diagnoses of early-stage colorectal cancer. And according to the American Cancer Society, early detection can lessen the likelihood of dying from colon and rectum, breast, uterine cervix, and lung cancers.
As for the employer-backed wellness programs, employees who have access to health and wellness programs have 25 percent lower obesity rates and 26 percent fewer cases of hypertension.
To learn more about the free services available to you, speak with a representative from your company's benefits or human resources department. And visit Healthcare.gov to view the full list of preventive health services for adults and children.