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5 Surprising Benefits Your Plan May Include

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By Lisa ZamoskyMay 05, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

We’re so used to hearing about unpleasant health insurance surprises, like the claim that was denied or the medication your doctor ordered but your plan didn’t cover. But health insurance policies can include some positive surprises, as well: some policies provide coverage for extras that you may not know about – and may not be taking advantage of.

Here are 5 surprising benefits your insurance policy may cover:

1. Breastfeeding: If you’re an expectant mother and plan to breast feed your baby, you may be able to get help from your insurance company at no cost. Under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans are required to provide you with breastfeeding counseling, and breast pumps.

Just keep in mind that, like all services covered by insurers, you’ll need to follow the specific guidelines set by your plan. For example, you may need your doctor’s help getting prior authorization, and some insurers will cover the cost of an electric pump, while others may only pay for one operated manually. Check with your particular plan to learn the details.

2. Chiropractic care: Many health insurance policies will cover chiropractic care, according to the American Chiropractic Association, but the details of coverage vary from one plan to another.

You may first need to get a referral from a physician or prior authorization from your insurer. And there are often particular guidelines you need to meet for coverage to apply. For example, Medicare covers manipulation of the spine, but only if it’s considered to be medically necessary to correct vertebrae that have moved out of position.

3. Acupuncture: According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. use some form of alternative medicine, including acupuncture. Though it depends on the state you live in and your insurer, you may be able to get help from you health plan to cover some of your costs for acupuncture. Sometimes plans offer discounts on other alternative medicines as well, such as massage therapy.

4. Gym memberships: There’s a big push these days for wellness and prevention, and regular exercise is one way to stay healthy. As a result, most health plans offer discounts on gym memberships to entice you to get moving. Discounts range widely – some insurers will give you money toward your membership dues if you exercise a certain number of days each month, while others will offer you a completely free gym membership. Check with your plan for details.

5. Health Savings Accounts: If your health plan is one with a high deductible that can be paired with a health savings account, you can use the money you set aside to pay for all kinds of health-related products and services at a discount – including many insurance does not cover.

Health savings accounts, or HSAs, are investment accounts – like a 401(k) retirement plan or a 529 college savings plan – that can be opened by anyone enrolled in a qualified health insurance plan that has a deductible of at least $ 1,300 for an individual and $ 2,600 for a family.

These accounts allow you to set aside money, tax free, to spend on a wide range of medical expenses, including doctor visits, prescription drugs, eye glasses, hospital care and dental care. But you can also use the money to pay for things like artificial teeth, breast reconstruction surgery and contact lenses. To see a list of qualified medical expenses, take a look at the IRS Publication 502.

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