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With almost 25% of children under the age of 18 living with a single parent and the number of unmarried partners living together nearly tripling in two decades, the traditional family is far less common than it once was. Today’s concept of family goes beyond husband, wife, and children. It encompasses a variety of family types like same-sex and single-parent households, domestic partnerships, grandparents taking care of grandchildren, and caregivers for non-biological relatives to name a few.
Regardless of family type, what continues to remain steady is that individual health will always be unique, with each person requiring varying levels of care throughout their life. “Each member has their own health needs but finding care or resolutions to those needs is what can impact each family differently,” says Laura Black, vice president of population health at Point32Health. She goes on to share an example of how a single parent might feel more burdened by having to seek out childcare options alone than a two-parent household who could lean on one another for support.
In any instance, those advocating for their family’s health and well-being know that the process of navigating the health care system can be confusing. Here we’ll explore ways to simplify that process with resources to help minimize the impact felt by families of any shape and size.
Navigating a complex health care system
No matter how major or minor a health care need is, making decisions for your family’s health can be challenging. And for single parents taking on the decision-making process alone or for those seeking care for non-biological family members, navigating the health care system can be even more stressful.
For any way you define family, finding resources that best support the needs of your loved ones is key, and your health plan is a great place to start. For instance, Point32Health companies Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan have a variety of employees — like care managers and social workers — who work directly with members to guide them through the intricacies of the health care system.
Care managers are available to support members with certain chronic conditions or help caregivers with aging parents or adult children with lifelong disabilities. The care manager relationship is ongoing, there to regularly check in on a member to make sure they have what they need medically and to offer emotional support. Some Harvard Pilgrim or Tufts Health Plan members may also consult a social worker for additional needs. A few ways a health care social worker might help include:
• Assisting a worried parent with paperwork related to their child’s diagnosis.
• Suggesting a support group for an overwhelmed caregiver.
• Calling providers to check availability so that a member can start receiving the mental health treatment they need.
• Sharing financial assistance options for someone who needs it but can’t afford it.
“At Point32Health, we have a no wrong door policy. If a member or caregiver reaches out to us, we will definitely engage with them to help them find the support they need.” — Laura Black, vice president of population health at Point32Health
There are also digital options like Wellthy, which simplify the care process for a chronic condition or following a tough diagnosis. A care concierge service, Wellthy provides personalized support to help you handle the logistical and administrative tasks that come with caring for loved ones. Wellthy offers expert guidance, immediate assistance, and streamlined health updates sent to anyone you consider family.
For any Harvard Pilgrim or Tufts Health Plan member seeking additional support for a health concern or related issue, contact Member Services for more information.
Not compromising on care for cost
While managing the care for you or a family member is difficult enough, having to worry about cost adds another layer of stress. Keeping those costs down is a priority for most, which is why it’s important to recognize that different services, like X-rays or MRIs, can vary in cost depending on the facility you go to. Just because a certain location is suggested by a provider doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be cheaper for you. Being proactive and calling around to ask about cost prior to getting a service or treatment will help you save.
When aiming to save longer term, consider the health plan you’re choosing for you and your family. While higher-deductible plans might seem more expensive at first glance, they often include flexible saving options like health savings accounts (HSAs); however, a lower-deductible plan might make more sense for a family with recurrent medical needs. You can learn about the cost-saving benefits of HSAs and assess what plan is best for your family’s unique needs and budget through MyHealthMath’s Decision Doc, a health plan decision-making tool.
Employees who use MyHealthMath have saved an average of $1,300 annually. Through personalized support, MyHealthMath’s Decision Doc outlines the most cost-effective plan options for each family, taking their medical usage into account, and ultimately alleviating the confusion and stress that can come with choosing a health plan.
Modern support in the workplace
For those who receive health care benefits from an employer, it’s first important to fully understand what’s offered so that you can make the best use of your benefits package. Ask the right questions for you and your family:
• Does your employer communicate what resources are available for your health plan, or is there an opportunity to ask specific questions to an HR team member or a health benefits rep?
• Are HSAs offered to employees and does your employer make an annual contribution to them?
• Are there support options for parents and caregivers, like onsite childcare or eldercare services?
Even outside of health plan offerings, options like flexible work schedules, company-wide mental health days and generous PTO or family leave not only positively impact your mental health but can make a difference when a health issue does arise. When dealing with a family health concern, feeling comfortable taking time from the workday to bring a child to a doctor’s appointment or care for an older adult’s ongoing health needs can make a tough time easier. And for growing families, knowing what options are available when it comes to parental leave, adoption support, or surrogacy planning are valuable too.
Whoever is part of your family, having the right knowledge and resources will empower you to make the best health care decisions for you and your loved ones.
Point32Health is a nonprofit health and wellbeing organization, guiding and empowering healthier lives for all. Bringing together over 90 years of combined expertise and the collective strengths of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan and our family of companies, we help our members and communities navigate the health care ecosystem through a broad range of health plan offerings and tools.
Sponsored by Point32Health
Empowering families in every language
Conversations in long-term care planning
Discussing future plans early with loved ones.
Community health centers help local families navigate health care near the poverty line
Ensuring patients' whole health needs are met.