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Lesser known health perks your plan may offer

Carolyn Sun By Carolyn Sun

Sachi F. is a 34-year-old long-distance runner living in Manhattan. When she experienced back pain for the first time in her life, she didn’t know what to do. “My friend Johnna told me to check out acupuncture, but I basically laughed at her,” she says. “I didn’t think I could afford it.” Johnna urged her to check if her health plan helped cover the cost. Two weeks and two appointments later, Sachi was feeling well enough to return to her running routine. Your health plan may also offer some useful benefits you don’t even know about. All it takes is a little research. Here are a few perks and discounts to explore.

Gym membership

Does your workout fix make you a happier person? Then this will really make you smile: It’s possible your health plan offers a discount or rebate on your membership. For example, some Aetna plans offer discounts on memberships to the YMCA and 24-Hour Fitness clubs.

Yoga and massage

Like Sachi, many people find holistic treatments are an effective alternative to pain medication. Your health plan may even cover some of the cost of acupuncture, yoga classes, massage therapy, chiropractic and nutrition services. Also check to see if you’re eligible for discounts on holistic products like yoga equipment and nutritional supplements.

Health coaching

If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, lose weight or manage a condition like asthma or diabetes, you may need extra, ongoing support to reach your health goals. That’s where a health coach comes in handy. These pros offer sound advice to start you off in the right direction, and will check in regularly to keep you motivated and on-track. Some health plans offer access to personal health coaching free of charge. Read tips for creating a fitness plan from Aetna health coach Ricky Moore.

24/7 health hotline

Some folks are lucky enough to have a doctor or nurse in their immediate family who doesn’t mind receiving anxious phone calls in the wee hours about their awful head cold or insomnia. The next best thing: A round-the-clock hotline, like Aetna’s Informed Health Line, staffed by health pros who can answer questions or just offer reassurance. If you need follow-up attention, they can also tell you about treatment options and how to best explain your symptoms to your physician. Read an interview with Informed Health Line coach Elizabeth Cote.

Cost calculator

Wouldn’t it be great to avoid the surprise bills that sometimes follow medical procedures? Your health plan may offer online tools to help you budget for services based on the average cost in your area. Aetna’s Member Payment Estimator also lets you compare and shop for treatments, doctors and hospitals by cost.

Diet and weight management programs

Losing weight isn’t easy. The most effective long-term approach involves changing your lifestyle, cooking differently and rethinking portion sizes. A weight loss program can help you get there, in the company of people who share the same goals. Check your plan for possible discounts on programs like Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and CalorieKing. Read an interview with Aetna dietitian Jennifer Lewis.

Perks and discounts that come with your health plan vary and may require some research. (Your employer’s benefits manager can help.) But the payoff is achieving your health goals while keeping more cash in your pocket.

About the author

Carolyn Sun is an Instagram food culture enthusiast with a soft spot for horchatas and coconut milk. Her health goal is to start each day with a leafy green smoothie and meditation.

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