The one constant in life is change. Employee benefit plans are no different. Whether your employer is changing vendors or adding new plan benefits, it’s important to be prepared, ask the right questions and understand how the changes are going to affect you. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.
Plan, Prepare and Do Your Research
One of the first things you want to do to prepare for plan changes is to have a solid picture of your needs as well as any new carrier-specific programs being offered for the coming year. Most employers and their benefits consultants hold annual open enrollment meetings. Before these sessions occur, make a list of specific questions and concerns you might have.
In advance of the effective change date, look up your frequented doctors and pharmacy on the carrier’s website to be certain they are in-network. If they are not, research your alternatives, call the carrier or your benefits department to discuss. Vendors and carriers are typically ready to work with you. Just be sure to know your options so you can make the best decision for yourself.
You’ll likely receive new insurance cards primarily medical and pharmacy – but occasionally for your dental and vision plans as well – before the new effective date of your coverage. Once you have these and the switch has occurred, be sure to destroy your previous cards so there is no confusion during the transition period.
You can register on the carrier’s website to print additional ID cards, look for physicians and facilities, estimate costs for procedures, check HSA account balances, deductibles, plan details, wellness opportunities, and more. Most employers will also have this information summarized in your employee handbook. Keep that as a reference guide to help you with the change. In addition, be sure to read your benefit summaries from your carriers so you know what’s covered as well as any changes to copays, deductibles, etc.
Communicate to Minimize Disruptions in Care
Make certain to communicate to your doctor, pharmacy, or facility that you frequent that there has been a plan change and provide them with your new ID card as soon as the coverage is active.
If you receive maintenance medications via mail order, make sure you have your doctor send your scripts to the new pharmacy provider so there is no disruption in receiving your medications.
Explore Value-Added Programs, Discounts, and Treatments
Oftentimes, carriers will have value-added programs that allow for discounts to alternate providers, such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and other health services. Check out your carrier’s website to see what discount programs are available — and take advantage of them.
If you or a family member on your plan is having ongoing treatment for certain conditions, such as cancer, transplant services, or pregnancy, call the new carrier to check into the continuation of care during the transition to the new carrier. Make sure you know what is covered, what types of out-of-pocket costs you may incur, and make certain that seamless care is available to you.
Also, most carriers and employers offer telemedicine or virtual care options, be certain to add that number into your phone for quick access.
Change can be scary, but by being prepared by working with your benefits team, you can navigate change successfully and achieve healthy outcomes for you and your loved ones.
Experts at Navigating Change
Valley Schools has been a leader in insurance administration, vendor contracting, and consulting services for more than three decades. As an Arizona nonprofit corporation, our No. 1 priority is advising and providing our members best-in-class service at the most competitive rates possible.
Get in touch with us for more information.