October marks Health Literacy Month. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty understanding and using routine health information... and the link between limited health literacy and poor health has been well documented. Here, we’re giving you five tips to boost your health care IQ. 1) Learn the costs that make up your health care plan To know what you’re paying for as a consumer, you should know the financial terms that make up your plan. What’s your premium? What happens when you hit your deductible? Here’s a helpful guide that spells it all out for you— from your premium and deductible to your copay, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. 2) Know where to go for health care services The difference between a visit to your primary doctor, an urgent care or emergency room visit is important to know before you fall ill or injured. Your primary doctor knows your background and has your medical records. In the case of most injuries or illness, this is the best place to go. If you’re unable to see your primary doctor, urgent care can be a second alternative, often offering walk-in service at extended hours. Emergency room visits should be reserved for serious or life-threatening circumstances. 3) Get the gist on health care reform There have been quite a few policy changes that can make navigating health care issues confusing… but it doesn’t have to be. Health Care Reform Basics is a website that makes it easy to understand what health care reform means for you, and provides a step-by-step guide on how to enroll. 4) Understand the different types of health spending accounts Health spending accounts are like personal bank accounts dedicated to your health. Learn the difference between a health savings account (HSA), health reimbursement account (HRA) and flexible spending account (FSA) and decide which one is right for you. 5) Use your resources when you have additional questions The Customer Action Center online is up 24/7 for your questions and comments… But if you prefer to talk in person, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has introduced walk-in customer service centers around the state to answer your questions. For more on Health Literacy Month, visit healthliteracymonth.org Photo credit: COM SALUD
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