By Emily Michels, Policy Analyst
Wonder Woman rocks a lasso of truth, Katniss Everdeen can shoot an arrow with spot on accuracy, and Detective Olivia Benson can solve the most unsolvable crimes. While the rest of us women may not have quite as big-screen-ready superpowers, we can be champions of our own health care, without the billion dollar budgets. Check out these three ways (and share more of your own with us!) to take charge of your own health care and become your very own superhero.
1.Take advantage of all your health plan offers.
If you’ve purchased private health insurance, there are many hidden treasures within your plan that you may not know about. There’s a long list of copay and coinsurance-free services that you can receive if you seek them out and know what you’re entitled to with your premium. For example, you may know that your birth control is supposed to be paid for in its entirety with the payment of your monthly insurance premium, BUT did you also know that some screenings and tests for breast cancer (including more extensive tests for women with a higher risk) are covered in full, too? Look out for tomorrow’s #NWHW blog on preventive services you may not know about to learn more!
What this boils down to is that there are services out there that women can be taking advantage of, as long as they know about them and take the time to take care of themselves. We all have busy schedules and are busy being Superwoman (or close to it!), but make the time to learn about what’s available to you and get the most out of your plan. You pay the premium every month regardless – the amount you get out of it is up to you.
2.Speak up if something is going wrong.
If your car wasn’t working or you had a really terrible experience at a restaurant or you were overcharged for something that was clearly marked differently, you’d probably speak up about it. So why should health insurance be any different? If you are having a problem with your health insurance – not being able to find a provider in your network accepting new patients, receiving a way higher bill than you expected or were quoted, etc. – tell someone! Specifically, tell the Division of Insurance (DOI) and file a complaint with your health insurance carrier.
If you believe a health insurance claim has been wrongly denied, you can appeal to your carrier to see if there was a mistake or for more information about the denial. It can be a daunting process, but well worth it if you find that the denial was made incorrectly. Check out this guide to filing an appeal.
The Division of Insurance can also help – they collect complaint data and assist consumers in solving their insurance issues, mainly by being a communications liaison between the consumer and the insurance companies. So while they can do their best to help you solve your situation, they also collect data that organizations like CCHI and other advocates can use to try to address the biggest problems consumers are seeing in health care (see our most recent blog on DOI consumer complaint data)! To file a complaint with the Colorado Division of Insurance, go to this website or call 303-894-7490 / 1-800-930-3745; if you’re in a different state, a quick Google search will do the trick.
3.Learn the lingo.
Health insurance literacy (HIL) is the new hot buzzword in the health insurance world, but it’s definitely not a passing fad. Health insurance literacy means knowing what all of the foreign health insurance words mean – some of which I’ve probably already thrown at you in this blog.
Okay, pop quiz: define “deductible,” “coinsurance,” “ACA,” “in-network,” and “out of pocket costs.” If you struggled to find the words to describe any of those terms, you’re not alone. But with a little self-education, you could be ready to take charge of your own health care experience (and teach your friends!).
CCHI has a interactive website called CoveredU.org that allows you to learn all about how to shop for health insurance and how to use it once you’ve made a purchase, all the while teaching you about the basic health insurance terms you need to know to survive. Once you’ve become a master of this vocabulary (and gained some pretty sweet new Scrabble words), you can go on to get the most out of your health care experience.
The bottom line is that there are many chances for women to have better and more fulfilling health care experiences – the onus sometimes has to be on us to seek them out. But seeing as though my mom could find something in a heartbeat when I’d searched the house three times over, I have confidence that the women of Colorado, and the rest of the country, can find the health care opportunities sitting right in front of them.