Benefits aren’t sexy, and they’re not always easy to navigate. Choosing health and dental coverage that checks all your boxes is no easy feat. But that doesn’t mean you should settle for any old option or be left scratching your head. 

Life is constantly changing and so are your health and wellness needs. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place for benefit advice. Our Alberta Blue Cross® team members are experts in this field. They’ve got a tip (or 8) to share when it comes time to choose or renew your benefits.

1. Calculate your prescription drug costs

“When choosing what level of prescription drug coverage is right for you, be as honest and open as you can with your benefit consultant,” advises Cori-Lyn Brittain, team lead of Individual Products Sales at Alberta Blue Cross®. “If you come prepared with a list of your medications, drug numbers and monthly costs, we’ll be better equipped to find a plan with the right level of coverage for you.” You can find your drug identification numbers by taking a peek at your prescription label or contacting your pharmacy directly.

If your prescription costs are relatively low, you might even consider paying out of pocket. However, if your prescriptions are priced higher, a plan that covers a portion of your prescription costs can help ease the financial strain. 

2. Cover your mental health 

Therapy can be expensive. Whether you’re already seeing a therapist or thinking about starting, having a benefits plan that covers things like psychology and counselling visits can make all the difference.

When you’re in the market for a health and dental plan, take a look at the different levels of mental health coverage offered. “You might not need the highest level of coverage right away,” explains Sandeep Mahajan, personal benefits consultant at Alberta Blue Cross®. “Start with a lower level of coverage and increase it as needed.” 

3. Enrol in a personal plan within 30 days of an employer plan ending

When it comes to switching from an employer health plan to a personal plan, timing is everything. Whether you’re gearing up for retirement or moving on to a new career, it’s important to have a plan in place to avoid any gaps in your health and dental coverage. 

When you first sign up for health and dental insurance, there might be a waiting period where you can’t access certain benefits, such as dental care. Although waiting periods can differ from one provider to another, the key is to start the process as soon as possible.

“If you enrol in a personal plan within 30 days of your employer plan ending, you can bypass the 3-month waiting period,” says Cori-Lyn.

4. Don’t skip the travel insurance

Picture this: you’re lounging on a tropical beach, sipping a fruity drink when all of a sudden, you’re struck down figuratively by an illness—or literally by an errant surfboard. Not exactly the vacation you had in mind, right? 

To make matters worse, without proper travel coverage, you could end up with a hefty bill that can ruin your whole trip. And this isn’t limited to far-flung vacations. Even a simple getaway outside of your own province can leave you vulnerable if you’re not properly insured.

 “A lot of people think you only need travel insurance for trips outside of Canada,” explains Sandeep. “But it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for any trip, even if you’re just travelling to a different province.” 

Anytime you’re leaving Alberta, take a few moments to dig into the details of your travel insurance. Make sure you’re protected so that when you hit the slopes in Whistler or hop harbors out east, you can do it with confidence and peace of mind.

5. Remember to add dependents sooner rather than later

If you’re planning to grow your family or are already expecting, getting your dependents covered early is crucial. When you add your dependents to your health and dental plan early, you’ll avoid the hassle of pre-existing condition screenings and waiting periods with most benefit providers. This means that your little one will be covered, regardless of any unexpected medical issues.

At Alberta Blue Cross®, when you add your newborn as a dependent within 30 days of their birth, you can rest assured that they’ll have coverage even if they’re born with pre-existing conditions. “Put a big sticky note on your fridge to remind yourself to add your newborn to your health and dental plan within 30 days,” says Cori-Lyn.

6. Get rewarded for taking care of your wellbeing

Looking for a fun and easy way to stay motivated and live a healthier life? Find a benefits plan that rewards you for taking care of yourself.

At Alberta Blue Cross®, Balance®, our online wellness program rewards healthy choices with badges and points that can be redeemed for awesome prizes. And who doesn’t love a good incentive? From Fitbits to GoPros, gift cards to weekend getaways, the rewards are endless.

“Every time you use Balance® to track your health, you can earn points and win prizes,” explains Sandeep. “I won a West Edmonton Mall gift card once by just tracking my steps.”

7. Consider medical devices

Always make sure that medical devices—like CPAP machines, hearing aids and orthotics—are covered by your health and dental plan before signing on the dotted line. Different plans have different requirements for coverage, so it’s essential to ask questions and find a plan that works for you and your medical needs.

“Always check the parameters around the medical devices covered on your plan,” advises Cori-Lyn. “For example, if you need a CPAP machine, you might need to do a sleep test and have a certain sleep rating before you’re approved for coverage.” 

8. Anticipate major dental work

Your kids might have baby pearly whites now, but in a few years, you might find yourself staring at an eye-opening dental estimate from an orthodontist. Always consider adding extra dental coverage to your plan if you expect you may need something like braces in the upcoming year.

“Think about what dental work you might need in the near future,” says Sandeep. “Ask yourself questions like, ’Will my child need braces?’ or ‘Will I need dentures?’ to help you select the right level of coverage for your family’s needs.”  

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