Hidden Perks in Your Health Plan You May Not Be Using

It’s the end of a long, stressful week, and you’re treating yourself to that well-deserved massage. Shoulders … neck … lower back, where the tension always seems to collect. Relief. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to worry about pulling out your credit card after the hour is up?


You may not have to. Health care plans are increasingly embracing wellness, prevention and chronic disease management.

You may be surprised by the number of benefits that you didn’t know about. Here are just a few of the hidden perks.

Wellness programs are designed to help you quit smoking, end substance abuse, manage stress and improve your nutrition. Your plan may also offer discounts on membership at certain gyms or offer a health care coach or registered nurse to help manage your health.

Mental health costs must be covered at the same level as medical/surgical care, according to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Many plans offer various levels of treatment: in office, at home or at a hospital, either on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

Chronic disease conditions, along with mental health, account for 86 percent of the U.S.’s $2.7 trillion health care costs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Insurance companies now offer “disease management” for conditions such as diabetes and asthma – sometimes including counseling or weight-loss programs.

Sexual health and family planning is where it pays to look into both your insurance plans and your Flexible Spending Account. While insurers cover contraceptives, infertility treatment and family planning counseling, FSA can cover the costs of items such as condoms.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy and herbal medicine. Check your insurer’s website carefully on this one in particular. One may say “not covered” for CAM, but offer massage therapy under “rehabilitation therapies.” CAM treatments may have higher deductibles or require a separate rider to your insurance.

Home health care is, for many, preferable to hospitals or rehab facilities. Medical equipment, skilled nursing visits, home blood draws and 24/7 on-call may be part of your plan.

Plans vary in what they cover, so, to learn about some of the benefits that might be hiding in your plan, start by going to your plan’s website and looking under “medical coverage details.”