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July 30, 2019

Six health insurance benefits you may not know about

Health Insurance Benefits

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Having a clear understanding of your health insurance plan helps minimize health risks and reduce unnecessary spending. Here are five benefits of health insurance you might not know about:

1. Essential health benefits

Ensuring long-term well-being begins with being aware of the essential benefits provided by your health insurance plan. Unfortunately, many people don’t know that most health plans are required to cover preventive services without charging a copay or coinsurance fees. This means you are not required to pay any deductible, copays, or coinsurance for certain services such as wellness visits, immunizations, screenings for cancer, and other diseases. In addition to preventive services, health insurance plans – like the individual and family health plans offed by Independence Blue Cross – provide a list of other essential benefits such as:

• Emergency care
• Ambulatory services
• Hospitalization
• Maternity and newborn services
• Pediatrics services, including dental and vision
• Prescription drugs
• Laboratory services
• Mental health and substance abuse services
• Rehabilitation and habilitation services

2. Free or discounted weight loss services

With more than two thirds of American adults considered overweight or obese, the health care system has taken measures to reduce the number of weight-related illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. To do this, most health plans (including all policies sold through your state’s marketplace) are required to offer obesity screening, and many provide additional weight loss services. Some major insurance companies also offer discounts on gym memberships and fitness gear, free fitness and nutrition classes, reimbursement programs for gym and weight loss programs, and online resources that can help you save money and calories by providing access to coupons, recipes, and health articles.

3. Help to quit smoking

The cost of smoking related illnesses to health insurance companies far outweighs the cost of prevention or cessation. Because of this, many public and private health insurance plans cover a variety of FDA-approved medications and programs to help people quit smoking. These include nicotine nasal sprays, bupropion, nicotine inhalers, and reimbursements for smoking cessation. Though coverage often changes and health insurance plans vary, anything helps in the fight against smoking-related illness, the number one cause of preventable death and disease.

4. Telemedicine services

As access to phone and internet services increases, so has the prevalence of telemedicine. This mobile service allows medical professionals to evaluate, diagnose, and treat people remotely using the phone or video chat, making healthcare more available to patients who struggle with mobility or aren’t able to drive. Medical services that can be provided by telemedicine include but are not limited to:

• Allergies
• Asthma
• Cold and flu
• Rashes
• Infections
• Conjunctivitis
• Insect bites
• Sinusitis
• Respiratory infections

5. Access to mental health support

It’s difficult to find the courage to seek help for mental health issues, but as the stigma around mental illness subsides, more opportunities have become available. As of 2008, the mental health parity law requires that all coverage of mental and behavioral health services be on par with that of physical health coverage. Unfortunately, more than 90 percent of Americans were unfamiliar with this legislation as of 2014. The law applies to employer-sponsored health coverage for companies with more than 50 employees, coverage purchased through health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and most Medicaid programs. Independence Blue Cross members who are experiencing mental health concerns have access to self-help tools, resources and information on emotional health through its free On To Better Health program.

6. Other fun, healthy discounts

If you live in the Philadelphia region, Independence Blue Cross provides its members with some fun ways to lead a healthy lifestyle that the entire family can enjoy. Members can attend free fitness classes, try new technology, or even watch a live cooking demonstration at the state-of-the-art Independence LIVE customer experience center, located at 1919 Market Street in Philadelphia. Members also can take advantage of the city’s Indego bike share program with a 20 percent discount available using a promo code available when members log in at And last but not least, an Independence member ID card provides free skating admission at the Blue Cross RiverRInk in Penn’s Landing – so you can stay moving all year long!

Health insurance exists to support your health and well-being but understanding every benefit available to you is essential to securing all the advantages healthcare has to offer. Talk to your physician or health insurance provider if you have any questions or concerns regarding your plan or access to appropriate medical support.

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