New health plan member? Get started with this helpful checklist

If you’re new to a new health plan this year, you may have questions about benefits and how you can use them.

Digging in now may help you feel prepared when you need care — and getting started can be easy if you break it into steps.

First things first: Grab your member ID card and sign in or register for your health plan member account. That way, you’ll be able to view personalized plan details for addressing common issues, including:

  • Finding network doctors and pharmacies
  • Estimating costs
  • Viewing and paying claims
  • Checking account balances
  • Learning about covered preventive care

Once you’ve signed in, consider these five ideas to help you take charge of your health and get more out of your benefits:

1.     Download tech tools

Your insurer may have an app for on-the-go access to plan details, which may include things like nearby care options in your network or the amount you’ve paid already toward your annual deductible.

You may also be able to use the app for 24/7 virtual visits, which allow you to connect with a provider on a video call.

2.     Stay in your network

The doctors in your network have agreed to provide services at a discount, so staying in that network will likely mean paying less than using an out-of-network provider. The same is true for mental health professionals, pharmacies, hospitals and labs.

If you’re a UnitedHealthcare plan member, you can sign into your member account to find a network doctor. When you do, consider searching for one designated as a UnitedHealth Premium® Care Physician, meaning they meet certain quality and cost-efficiency guidelines.

3.     Explore your pharmacy benefits

Whether you take prescription drugs regularly or use medications for specific treatments, it’s helpful to understand pharmacy benefits. It could mean getting prescriptions filled more easily and at a lower cost. After you’ve activated your member account, consider addressing these common issues:   

  • Check your medication cost and coverage
  • Verify if there are any pre-fill requirements, such as prior authorization or step therapy
  • Locate a network pharmacy

Some plans also offer savings through home delivery. You may be able to get a three-month supply of medications sent directly to your home.

4.     Schedule your first appointment

Routine wellness exams, certain health screenings and immunizations are among the preventive care often covered at no additional cost in a health plan. Consider calling your primary care provider (PCP) to get a checkup on the calendar.

Although some plans may not require you to choose a PCP, it may be a good idea to have one. When your doctor becomes familiar with your medical history, your habits and lifestyle, they’ll likely be better positioned to recognize red flags before they become serious health issues.

RELATED: How to choose a primary care doctor

5.     Keep your member ID handy

Even if you have an online member account and have downloaded your plan’s app, plan to take your ID card with you to get care. It’s proof that you have insurance. Health care providers use the information from your card to confirm they are part of your network and to bill your health plan for your care.

After you’ve created your member account and learned its features, consider signing up to get your required information online instead of by mail. This switch to paperless communication may mean less clutter and is better for the environment.

For more information, visit uhc.com.