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Make Your Insurance Work for You

Take full advantage of your health insurance benefits with these helpful tips.

Get to Know How Your Health Plan Works

Each health plan is different. Be sure to know how your plan works so you get the most from your benefits.

  • Stay in the network. Most health plans, like HMOs and PPOs, use certain groups of doctors, hospitals and other health care professionals called provider networks. If you visit a doctor outside of your network, you may have to pay more for your care. In some cases, you may have to pay the full cost. For HMOs, if you are referred to a specialist, make sure he or she is in your network.
  • Use the ER for emergencies only. When your injury or illness is serious go to the nearest emergency room. You don't need a referral. If it's not an emergency, you may be able to save money by seeing your regular doctor for colds, minor sprains and other less serious conditions.
  • Know what's covered. Make sure services or treatments are covered before you schedule them. If you have a PPO, you may need pre-authorization (pre-notification) from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) before you get certain tests or services. You or your doctor must call the pre-authorization (or pre-certification) number on the back of your member ID card to confirm.
  • Conduct an "annual check-up" of your health plan. Make sure your plan still meets your needs. This is especially true if you've had a major life event like a birth, death, marriage or divorce.

Use Your Blue Access for Members Tools and Perks

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois members can access Blue Access for MembersSM, our secure member website, where you can:

  • Manage your account online
  • Check the status of claims and set-up email alerts
  • Order a new member ID card and print a temporary card
  • Start a free program to help you lose weight or stop smoking
  • Search and compare doctors, hospitals and dentists

Register or log in to Blue Access for Members.

Keep a Medical History

  • A medical history can be anything related to your health. It can be as basic as a list of medications, illnesses and doctor's visits, or be much more detailed. Keeping track of your health history and your family's will help you to: Work with your doctor to keep healthy or diagnose a condition
  • Avoid drugs that may be harmful due to allergies
  • Make it easier and faster to fill out an application for individual insurance, file an insurance claim, an appeal on a claims decision, or dispute billing errors
  • Make it easier to track expenses in Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts

What to Track in Your Medical History

At the very least, you should track:

  • Illnesses and injuries, including dates, doctor's visits and symptoms
  • Treatments and therapies you've had, and if they helped or not
  • you've taken, including results and side effects
  • Health screenings and results
  • Current weight
  • Allergies, including drug allergies

You may also want to track:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Changes in habits, weight, energy level or bodily functions

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