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April 2017

Five Tips to Help Save on Health Care Expenses

Over the last 10 years, out-of-pocket health care costs for Americans have more than doubled, with medical expenses now accounting for 8 percent of annual household spending, according to the Consumer Expenditure Figures.

With national health care spending now exceeding $3.2 trillion annually, it is crucial for Texans residents to become more thoughtful health care consumers. Here are five ways to help people better navigate the health care system, which may improve their personal and financial fitness.

Learn the Lingo: Do you know the difference between co-payment and co-insurance? Don’t worry, most people don’t. In fact, just 7 percent of Americans were able to successfully define all four basic health coverage terms: premium, deductible, copayment and coinsurance, according to the recent UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey. By understanding these terms, people can help maximize the value of their health benefits and help avoid unnecessary or surprise medical bills. There are a number of tools online, including the glossary, available in English and Spanish, to help people learn or review health insurance terms.

Work on Wellness: An estimated 70 percent of employers already offer wellness programs and 8 percent more plan to do so during the next year, with some programs offering financial incentives, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. The value of corporate wellness incentives has increased to $693 per employee per year, up from $430 five years ago, according to a recent study from the National Business Group on Health. However, the study found that fewer than half of eligible employees earned the full incentive, with workers leaving millions of dollars of unclaimed rewards. Some wellness programs now include activity trackers, which help enable some employees to earn monetary incentives by meeting daily walking goals. Likewise, websites such as enable people to earn cash rewards for walking.

Seek to Save More: More employers are offering health plans that include a Health Savings Account (HSA) option. An HSA is like a personal bank account specifically for health-related expenses – you own all the money in it, including contributions from your employer. HSAs offer a triple tax advantage: money is deposited pre-tax from your paycheck and accrues interest tax-free, and withdrawals are not taxed as long as funds are used for qualified health-related expenses. With a growing number of Americans now enrolled in a consumer-directed health plan, these types of savings accounts will become increasingly important.

Select the Setting for Care: There are many places for people to seek care, including urgent and convenience care clinics that are often more cost-effective and offer shorter wait times than other health care facilities.

Don’t Forget Vision and Dental Coverage: Maintaining your health includes more than just medical coverage. Consider adding dental and vision plans, which can protect you and your family from head to toe. Research suggests a connection between oral health and overall health, so adding a dental plan may help prevent larger medical issues. A vision plan may offer eye exams that can help identify chronic conditions such as diabetes and offer reduced pricing on frames and lenses. Financial protection products, such as critical illness or hospital indemnity plans, can help provide important safeguards for unexpected health situations.

Wounded Veterans Pedaled 500-plus Miles Through Texas for the 2017 UnitedHealthcare Texas Challenge

Image Courtesy of Temple Daily Telegram

More than 100 wounded veterans, first responders and their supporters departed from San Antonio Monday, April 3 for a 500-mile bicycle ride as part of the 2017 UnitedHealthcare Texas Challenge.

The UnitedHealthcare Texas Challenge benefited the injured veteran riders of Project Hero, a national non-profit organization that helps veterans and first responders affected by injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury achieve rehabilitation, recovery and resilience in their daily lives.

Riding through historic sites, civic centers and local attractions, the riders made the six-day journey with hand cycles, recumbent bikes, custom tandems and traditional upright bikes.

Riders took overnight breaks in College Station, Waco, Georgetown, Fort Hood, Austin and San Marcos before they concluded in Houston Saturday, April 8.

Image Courtesy of City of San Marcos

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas and Houston Texans’ Johnathan Joseph Team Up for Special-Needs Students

(from left) UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas COO Jillian Hamblin, Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph, T.H. Rogers School Principal Dave Muzyka, and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas Executive Director Rudy Guerra pose with UnitedHealthcare’s donation to T.H. Rogers School.

Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph and UnitedHealthcare have teamed up to provide new playground equipment for special-needs students at Houston Independent School District’s T.H. Rogers School.

UnitedHealthcare donated $11,000 to Joseph’s Dreambuilders program, which is part of a national non-profit organization that works with pro athletes across the country to help kids receive the items, opportunities and equipment they need to reach their dreams.

With Joseph cheering them on, students demoed the equipment, including slides, a water table, swings and wheelchair swings—all ADA-accessible. The new playground equipment will enhance T.H.Rogers School’s mission of providing all students with the educational opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.

T.H. Rogers School’s student council presented Johnathan Joseph a gift at the ceremony on April 11.
T.H. Rogers School students and teachers demo the new playground equipment.
Johnathan Joseph answers questions from media following the ceremony.

Video Courtesy of KTRK-TV

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