Some tips for Gen Z and beyond to maximize mental health benefits

Dr. Donald Tavakoli

This past year, members of Generation Z began to turn 26, which, for many, meant leaving their families’ health insurance plans and picking their own for the very first time. As the generation reporting the highest rates of mental health issues, choosing an insurance plan and understanding the benefits associated is essential for access to maximizing your health, including your mental well-being.

So, first things first, Gen Z: get familiar with health insurance lingo. Understanding common terms allows you to accurately evaluate your needs, understand and compare benefits, and manage costs. (From copay to out-of-pocket, there’s a primer of terms at

Once you have the lingo down, it’s time to grasp the benefits associated with your plan. Remember, mental health affects everyone differently, and treatment isn’t one-size-fits-all. To make sure you are maximizing your benefits, here are a few tips to consider when choosing a plan:

• Check your mental health benefits. Caring for your mental health is crucial in achieving overall wellness. Coverage for your mental health care services depends on the benefits of your plan. You can determine the services you are eligible for by signing into your health plan or calling the number on your ID card. Some health insurers give members access to phone and mobile app services with certain health plans to help people cope with stress, anxiety and depression as a complement to their health care coverage.

• Understand your prescription benefits. Understanding your plan’s prescription benefits may help you manage costs. You can view a list of medications and see how they’re covered through your plan’s Prescription Drug List (PDL). PDLs may change, so if you have a medication you take regularly, you should keep a close eye on your plan’s PDL to stay ahead of any potential changes in costs. You may also be able to fill your prescriptions at a participating network pharmacy or with home delivery via mail if it’s included in your benefits, which can also lower costs and save you money.

• Review wellness and rewards programs. Remember, our physical health and mental health are intertwined. Many health plans offer incentives and rewards for everyday healthy living, such as completing a health survey, exercising or avoiding nicotine. Plans may also offer gym memberships or wellness programs at no additional cost.

• Consider a plan with virtual visits. If you are someone who juggles work, school, kids, travel, or just prefers to connect with a doctor from the comfort of your own home, check if your plan includes 24/7 virtual care. Virtual care, sometimes called “telehealth,” may include in-network virtual visits for medical, mental health, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropractic, home health, vision, hearing and dental services. These visits are typically lower in cost and allow you to connect with doctors about any mental or physical health issues from the convenience of your own home using a smartphone, tablet or computer.

If you need help understanding what benefits are right for you or want to explore speaking with a professional, some health insurers offer advocacy services and employee assistance programs to help you find the right type of care.

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