(BPT) - Are you one of the 48% of adults who says they or someone in their household has postponed or skipped medical care due to the COVID-19 pandemic?1 If so, you may not have yet taken full advantage of your insurance benefits this year.

Taking care of yourself is a critical component of maintaining health and balance in your life. And with safety at the forefront of their practices, many medical professionals are operating their offices with added precautions, meaning the time is right to schedule that overdue appointment.

While we’re all eager to bid adieu to 2020, don’t forget to take advantage of your workplace benefits before they reset in 2021. These are five typical ways you can make the most of your available benefits during this unique time:

1. Schedule annual checkups with all doctors.

This year has been anything but routine, but don’t let that be an excuse to skip your annual health screenings. These include your primary care doctor, optometrist, dentist, dermatologist, gynecologist, etc. Health insurance typically covers in-network preventative care services like cancer screenings, immunizations, blood pressure monitoring and cholesterol checks. Not comfortable going in person? Telehealth services may be right for you to still receive care from your home.

With flu season approaching, there are concerns regarding the overlap of COVID-19 and influenza, and most health insurance plans cover getting a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting a flu vaccination in September or October,2 so check with your doctor to learn more.

2. File a claim for your wellness benefit.

Supplemental insurance policies like accident and cancer insurance may include a wellness benefit that pays cash for things like a COVID-19 screening, annual physical, dental or eye exam, mammogram, prostate screening, immunization and more. You can even file a claim for this type of benefit if your health insurance already covers it.

3. Get help with emotional health.

According to the 2020-2021 Aflac WorkForces Report, 59% of employees have experienced burnout due to work. Employee assistance programs, or EAPs, provide support services for a full range of personal, family and work/life issues such as financial counseling or emotional health challenges — like feeling anxious or lonely working from home due to the pandemic. Referrals for family care, elder care and child care, as well as support for financial and legal issues, may be included in an EAP, too.

4. Take advantage of HSA tax benefits.

A health savings account, or HSA, allows employees with a high-deductible health plan to set aside money to pay for qualified medical expenses. Because they’re tax-deductible, HSA contributions help save money, and there are no time limits for when you have to spend it. The 2020 maximum contribution amounts are $3,550 for individuals and $7,100 for families,4 and individual account holders age 55 or older also have an opportunity to make an additional annual contribution of $1,000 in 2020.5

5. Closely monitor your FSA.

If you have a flexible spending account, or FSA, your plan may allow you to roll over up to $500 of remaining funds into 2021, but you’ll lose any amount exceeding that — even though you paid for it. In some cases, an FSA account may also provide a grace period of 2.5 months at the start of the new year for account holders to use the remaining money in their FSA.6 Either way, be sure to submit receipts to get reimbursement for eligible purchases.

Despite its challenges, 2020 has reinforced the truth behind the expression “health is wealth.” So, whether you don a mask and go to the doctor in person or use a smartphone for telehealth, prioritize self-care and make full use of the benefits you’re already paying for.

1 KFF Health Tracking Poll – May 2020 – Health and Economic Impacts. Accessed Sept. 3, 2020.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). Accessed Sept. 3, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/index.html.

3 The 2020-2021 Aflac WorkForces Report is the 10th annual study examining benefits trends and attitudes. The surveys, conducted by Kantar, captured responses from 1,200 employers and 2,000 employees across the United States in various industries. Learn more at Aflac.com/AWR.

4 HealthCare.gov, Health Savings Account (HSA). Accessed Sept. 3, 2020, https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/health-savings-account-hsa/.

5 Forbes, IRS Announces 2021 Health Savings Account Contribution Limits, Still Time To Make 2019 And 2020 HSA Contributions. Accessed Sept. 3, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2020/05/20/irs-announces-2021-health-savings-account-contribution-limits/#234f35686875.

6 HealthCare.gov, Using a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Accessed Sept. 3, 2020, https://www.healthcare.gov/have-job-based-coverage/flexible-spending-accounts/#:~:text=You%20generally%20must%20use%20the,use%20in%20the%20following%20year.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation for insurance. Aflac includes Aflac and/or Aflac New York.

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