A Benefits Listicle

By Kelley Butler

Jun. 25, 2015

Image courtesy of Buzzfeed.

I'm just gonna say it: I read Buzzfeed. And you do, too.

It’s OK — no judgment. Buzzfeed is popular because it has the right mix of infotainment. For example, we might never know about the cognitive neuroscience behind luminance and how it affects our vision if it weren’t for Buzzfeed sparking Web-wide debate over the colors in “the dress.” (I saw white and gold, by the way.)

Also, thanks to the site, the word “listicle” is firmly in the cultural lexicon. In honor of that, I have a listicle of my own that I hope you’ll share with your employees to spark light-hearted conversations about health care, without all the confusing jargon and annual enrollment pressure. I call it, “Three Signs You’re Doing Health Care All Wrong.” Try posting it to your company blog or in your HR/benefits newsletter, and see if it incites comments.

1. You never ask your doctor, “How much does that [prescription, procedure, treatment, test] cost?” EVER.

Unless you’re a billionaire (and, frankly, even if you are), you should know how much your treatment is costing you. The simple question: “How much does it cost?” can be the difference between managing your medical bills and getting blind-sided. Still, less than half of us ask our doctors about cost.

Bottom line: You wouldn’t buy a car without seeing the sticker price, right? Hell, most of us wouldn’t buy coffee without knowing what it costs. Surgeries, medications and X-rays have way higher stakes than your morning latte, and prices can vary just as much. Knowing what you’re paying — and getting what you pay for — should be just as high a priority.

2. You are suu-uperconfident that you’re getting the care you need.

You attend CrossFit daily, can recite the calorie counts for more than 100 foods and wear your Fitbit as a badge of honor. Awesome! But that confidence likely plays a part in a bit of health care hubris: Almost 70 percent of us think we have the right info to get the right health care.

But, if we’re all such health care savants, then why does research show that 30 percent of all U.S. health care is unnecessary? That means, out of every three of your doctor’s visits, lab tests or medical procedures, you don’t need one of them at all. Which one? That’s the $64,000 question.

3. You don’t take advantage of programs at work to help you be healthy.

Statistics show that a vast majority of large companies offers a wellness program to help workers lose weight, increase energy and productivity, lower health risks and get all the other good stuff we want in life from a health perspective.

If you don’t participate, chances are you’re missing out on a big — and usually free — opportunity to get healthy and get paid. Most companies offer cash incentives to take part in wellness activities, and 60 percent of people with access to a workplace wellness program are inspired to make healthy choices. Everyone could use a little extra inspiration, right?

If these signs are you, don’t despair! It’s never too late to change your health care ways. Like the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Here are three quick tips to get your pounds’ worth:

  1. Make sure you get appropriate preventive care — annual physicals and any gender- and age-specific screenings — they’re covered 100 percent under health care reform. That means you pay nothing. You can spare the hour away from work to make sure you’re firing on all cylinders healthwise.
  2. Squeeze every last bit of value out of your medical plan! Most plans offer ways to check in with and improve your health — whether it’s quitting smoking, losing weight, reducing stress or another area, it’s highly likely that your medical plan has a program to help. Maximize your premium dollars by making your medical plan work for you in every way possible.
  3. Maximize your time with your doctor. The average doctor visit is about 15 minutes of face-to-face time. To make the most of those few minutes, you can prepare a list of questions beforehand of any health issues you need to discuss. Bonus tip: If you’re asking a doctor’s opinion about a procedure, test or prescription, make one of those questions, “How much will it cost?”

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