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Take advantage of your health insurance benefits before the new year

Learn how to get the most out of your health plan, including how to maximize your flexible spending accounts. Sponsored by Premera.

SEATTLE — The year is coming to an end, and that means many health plans are resetting. You may still have some untouched benefits in your health plan. Taking full advantage ensures that you're keeping up-to-date on health services that can keep your wellness in check.

Premera account service representative Malinda Counsellor is here to walk through benefits that many forget about but are important to utilize.

Preventive Care 

"We're all about being healthy, so we want to make sure that we're getting those things done so that we can maintain our health," said Counsellor. "Since it's available and covered as preventive, it's oftentimes covered at no cost to you."  

Most plans pay in full for a preventive visit each year. So, if you haven't had yours yet, now is the time to visit your doctor for a check-up.

Flexible Spending Accounts

You may have a flexible spending account to help cover costs you incur from deductibles or medications. Now that the year is wrapping up, you should check on the balance of that account. 

"If you have anything that's left over, you can use that for things to fill your medicine cabinet," suggests Counsellor. "A lot of people get a cold this time of year, but you can definitely use (your flexible spending account) to cover the costs of that so you're not having to pay out of pocket." 

You can also check out this list of flexible spending account eligible expenses

Use your funds in a flexible spending account before they expire at the end of the year, but don't confuse it with a health savings account. The funds in a health savings account roll over to the following year.

Dental and Vision

Before December 31, use your dental and vision benefit if you have it. It doesn't roll over, so you may as well take advantage of it before it expires. Counsellor points out that it's a great reason to pick up items or services you may not usually have -- like prescription sunglasses. 

Another thing to check for is the maximum amount on your dental plan. If you need any extra dental work done, do it before your plan balance expires. 

Counsellor says these benefits are also available to your children. Parents may not think to schedule appointments for their kids until there's a problem. Call your doctor's office to see what the recommended age is for a dental or vision check up.

Sponsored by Premera. Segment Producer Joseph Suttner. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.comContact New Day