Before you enrolled in your health insurance plan, you probably looked through a stack of brochures that distilled the policy into the big stuff — like your premiums and deductibles or your network’s coverage of primary care physicians and hospitals. Chances are, your plan’s list of covered services ended with the phrase ” … and more.”
Those two little words can be frustratingly vague, but they present an opportunity to expand your care. It’s likely that your plan covers more types of health care providers than just your doctor and the staff at the emergency room. Whether you’re looking for a more holistic approach to health care or need a new strategy for destressing, you might find what you need to improve your well-being within your current plan.
Here are six health care providers that you may already have access to under your current health plan.
Lying on a table while a stranger sticks needles in your skin might sound like a nightmare you once had. But shake that thought off — studies have shown that acupuncture can help with health issues ranging from anxiety and stress to migraines and injuries. The treatment originates from traditional Chinese medicine and works by stimulating nerve pathways to balance your vital energy, or chi. Go in with confidence — the general consensus is that it doesn’t feel painful, just a little odd.
It’s a good thing it’s no longer common practice for doctors to travel around to patients’ houses carrying the tools of their trade, because chiropractors have a pretty hefty bag of tricks. These specialists focus on aligning your musculoskeletal system to reduce neck and back pain and improve spinal motion after injuries. Their treatment might involve diagnostic imaging, various kinds of massage and electromagnetic stimulation.
Telling yourself you’re going to start eating better is easy. Actually following through is harder. Working with a nutrition expert, like a dietitian, can make the transition from “chips technically count as a meal if you eat enough of them” to “I added salmon to this salad for a vitamin B12 boost” go a lot more smoothly. Dietitians can help you reach a healthy weight, manage diabetes and work around allergies with individualized meal plans and an expert eye for healthy food substitutes that actually taste good.
If you’re concerned about a genetic issue like Parkinson’s disease or you’re planning a pregnancy, a genetic counselor can give you insight into genetic factors you should be aware of. Counselors interpret genetic testing results, provide risk assessments and offer support to help you adapt if you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with a hereditary disorder.
Almost every sports movie ends as soon as the underdogs win the big game. They don’t show the time the champions spend afterward recovering from colliding headfirst into other players and spraining limbs. After the credits run is where physical therapists come in. Acting as part doctor and part motivational coach, physical therapists work with your physical limitations after an injury, illness or surgery — or whenever movement gives you discomfort. They’ll develop exercises and balance techniques to help you restore your function and prevent future injuries, all while encouraging you to keep your spirits up through the entire recovery process, no matter how long.
Just because you can’t physically see a condition doesn’t mean you can’t treat it. Psychologists give you the tools to organize your thoughts and navigate any mental health issues that are keeping you from being productive, happy and successful. Sessions don’t have to be restricted to depression and anxiety, either — strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you deal with grief, recover from job burnout, move past phobias, break bad habits or even just take an excuse to dedicate an entire hour to yourself. Don’t feel comfortable discussing personal issues outside of your home? Many insurers cover telehealth options, so you can meet with a psychologist without leaving your pajamas.
Your health plan is a ticket to a vast collection of different types of health care providers. Of course, it’s probably not going to be a free-for-all. Before seeing a new care provider, you should still check which specific services your plan covers and what kind of out-of-pocket expenses, like copays, you can expect to run into. But your health plan doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines until you get your annual checkup, and it shouldn’t. Explore your options and get the most out of your plan.