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August 17, 2007

Valuable Health-Care Benefits You May Be Overlooking

Exploring your health-care plan comes naturally when you need it to cover treatments for an illness or injury. But some of its features are best used — and often overlooked — when you're well.

Even in an era of rapidly rising health-care costs, employers often offer a host of free or low-cost preventive-care and wellness benefits, either directly through their health plans, their health plan's negotiated discounts with a network of third-party providers or employee-assistance programs, benefits experts say.

But many go unused because workers assume they don't have them or don't think to ask about them.

Especially when it comes to lesser-known discounts, insured people may be passing up significant savings on expenses such as laser vision correction surgery, braces, infertility treatments, weight-loss programs, massages — even electric toothbrushes. Discounts often range from 10 percent to 40 percent and can translate into personal savings of thousands of dollars.

"There are great benefits available to people that they don't even realize they have," said Mary Jo Case, president of Alliance Resources Inc, a human-resources consulting firm in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Here are nine valuable benefits you might be missing out on from your insurer, employer or both:

Paid preventive-care benefits

Those could encompass age-appropriate screenings like colonoscopies and mammograms; regular checks of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar; and prenatal vitamins for pregnant women.

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Posted by healthinsurance at August 17, 2007 12:12 PM