Benefits And Self-Care.

That warning has long been a way of wishing someone well, but these days it’s more like a prescription, as “self-care” becomes a widely accepted component of our healthcare system.

According to the World Health Organization, self-care is “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

In other words, self-care has to do with how you take care of yourself, including what you do outside of a doctor’s care. And that last point raises an obvious question: If I’m caring for myself, will I be covered through my benefits plan?

Generally, to get your healthcare insurer to pay for a healthcare treatment or program, you need to go through a healthcare provider, but some forms of healthcare will be covered even if they don’t involve a doctor. The coverage might not be as obvious as it is when you work with a healthcare provider, but it still can offset some costs. The following are a few ways this can work:

  • Specific programs or procedures. Insurers often outline specific programs or procedures that can be covered outside of the “traditional” healthcare system. Some include complementary or alternative healthcare approaches such as meditation, hypnosis, or massage, but others cover a wide range of options.
  • Over-the-counter medications. A big portion of self-care gets implemented through over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and some benefit programs will cover specific OTC medications. The biggest coverage benefit opportunities in this category come from medical flexible spending accounts (typically known as health savings accounts, or HSAs), which allow you to set aside pre-tax funds to cover healthcare expenses.
  • Flexible spending programs in general. Medical flexible spending accounts can be used for many healthcare costs in addition to OTC medications – making self-care a more affordable option. See your benefits guide for more information.
  • Classes and training. Some benefits programs do cover certain classes and training that will help you maintain a healthier lifestyle. For example, most cover smoking cessation programs, and some will cover classes on more nutritious meal preparation.
  • Exercise and fitness. Physical fitness is a key to health, and most benefit programs will support fitness in some way. They might cover gym memberships, pay for specific preventative programs, foot the bill for participation in fitness events like charity races.

What do all of these have in common? To know what your self-care coverage might be, you need to check your benefits plan or ask your benefits provider or HR representative. They’ll help you know how to get healthcare coverage for those times when you care for yourself.

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