Discounted yoga and massage? Free screenings and classes? Subsidies for LASIK and teeth whitening? Sounds too good to be true — but actually, there are a multitude of health insurance benefits available to members designed with preventative health and wellness in mind.
Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act effective in 2014, employers will be able to reward employees who participate in wellness programs (and penalize those who don’t). So even if you can’t — or aren’t — taking advantage of these benefits currently, expect to see changes in the coming years.
Even now, you may be surprised what’s covered under select plans:
A one-hour, stress-busting orthopedic or therapeutic massage at Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield participating facility Boston Bodyworker is normally $115, but the 25% insurance discount makes it $86. No documentation of any medical condition is necessary to get coverage. Check with your health insurance company to find out if you have similar benefits.
More than 60% of large companies, and a quarter of small companies, offer some form of reimbursement or discount on gym memberships. For example United Health Care plans include a 10-50% discount on specific health club memberships. If your gym costs $60 a month, a half-off discount will save you $30 each month.
Blue Cross Blue Sheild and Oxford are two health insurance companies with wellness programs that have a way to get reimbursed for fitness — specifically yoga — and the forms can be downloaded directly from their site.
More and more insurance companies are covering acupuncture these days but if you don’t have benefits, you may have what’s called an “affinity program”. This is an arrangement your insurance company has with certain acupuncturists to offer members discounted treatments (usually 20-40% discounts off regular price).
Weight Loss Programs
Though coverage for programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are not the norm, expect to see this change. One benefit now available through Aetna to Kraft Foods employees, for example, offers a 30% discount on these weight losss programs, bringing the cost of one popular plan down to $139 from $199.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
If your body mass index is 40 or more, or you have health problems like respiratory issues, diabetes or high blood pressure brought on by obesity, you may qualify for coverage for a gastric bypass gastric banding surgery. Surgery costs an average $20,000, so your deductible could be $500 and if your co-pay is 30% (or, around $6,000), you’ll pay about one-third of the cost.
Look for free classes and screenings like health and nutrition classes, blood pressure screenings, bone density screenings, BMI measurements (Body Mass Index), and more. Under Blue Cross Blue Shileld’s “Fit & Healthy” lifestyle benefit that includes flexible spending, LASIK eye surgery, teeth whitening (as long as the service is provided by a licensed dentist), toddler programs (like gym and swim programs) and even driver education can be reimbursed up to $300.
Armed with the knowledge that employers and health insurance companies are starting to recognize the benefits of preventative health and wellness, you can research what’s covered under your own plan currently, and soon-to-be benefits coming in 2014.
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