Get Healthy Carson City: Insurance soup: Understanding your health plan
Carson City Health and Human Services
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Understanding and picking through health insurance information can feel like a huge task. It is an alphabet soup of terms — PPO, HMO, plan year, deductible, copayment, co-insurance, out-of-pocket maximum, explanation of benefits (EOB).
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid provides two tools that can help people understand these abbreviations and words: A Roadmap to Better Care and a Healthier You; and A Roadmap to Behavioral Health: A guide to using Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services. Information in these tools is for people who use Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance. These two tools can be found at https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/OMH/equity-initiatives/from-coverage-to-care.html
Create a health booklet that includes contact information for all of your doctors. Also include information about your past illnesses, current medicines (including vitamins and herbs), history of vaccinations or shots that you have received, your most recent lab results, and your most recent health test results.
Know where to seek care — visits to your doctor’s office, an urgent care, or an emergency room have very different wait times, costs, and follow up steps. Become familiar with the laboratory or testing centers your insurance plan likes. Oftentimes a lower payment will be due if you go to one of the places your insurance likes. When in doubt, contact your health insurance plan to see what costs are covered before you go to a medical, laboratory, or other health appointment. Understanding the benefits of each type of healthcare place and service may help you save time and money.
When you see a special healthcare doctor (specialist) or need a special medical test or procedure, it is possible you will need to get permission from your insurance plan ahead of time. Always ask if you need this approval. If you don’t, your insurance may pay little or nothing for the care you receive. You would then have to pay the rest of the bill.
Prevention goes a long way. Most insurance plans cover shots, yearly check-ups for women, and other prevention programs at no cost to you. Call your insurance company to find out what free health services you can get in 2018.
Finally, Carson City Health and Human Services is partnering with the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services. Through this partnership, a staff member is available to enroll qualifying individuals and families into Medicaid and Nevada’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Stop by our facility located at 900 E. Long St. each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday for help or more information.
For more information about services and programs available to you, through Carson City Health and Human Services, please visit our website at gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/cchhs, or call us at 775-887-2190. You can also find us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.