My friend just received a 40% discount on a fitness watch. And after a dental procedure, he paid nothing for acupuncture to help ease the pain. His wife recently saved more than $800 on hearing aids. The surprising thing is that all these savings were benefits of their health insurance plan. Such benefits vary from state-to-state and plan-to-plan, but there are some widely used services and programs that your health plan may cover. Important: The onus is on you to find out about these programs (see below) and enroll in them. What you should check out… 

Weight-loss programs, grief counseling and more…

Are you having a hard time shedding those extra pounds? Chances are your health plan will pay all or most of the cost of a weight-loss and/or nutritional counseling program (often affiliated with a hospital and led by certified nutritionists). Your plan may also cover 10 or more sessions of grief counseling or even life coaching (which helps individuals cope with stressful work or life situations) as long as you see a licensed therapist (such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker). Most health plans also offer disease/condition-management programs ranging from diabetes control to pain management. These plans often assign nurses, counselors and others to work directly with you to effectively deal with your condition. You may need a doctor’s prescription or order to enroll in some of these programs—check with your insurer for details. Here’s how: If you are enrolled in traditional Medicare, check with your Medicare supplemental carrier for services. If you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan, check your plan website or call for details. If your insurance plan is through your employer or a health exchange, contact the insurer.

Healthy living  program…

Don’t want to pay hefty gym membership fees? You could be in luck! Most larger health insurance carriers have healthy-living programs available through their plans. Examples: Blue Cross Blue Shield 365…Cigna Healthy Rewards…and Humana Vitality offer a wide range of incentives to keep you active and healthy. Most pay all or part of gym membership fees for you and your family through programs such as Silver Sneakers. You may also be eligible for 10% to 50% off personal-training sessions. Other programs offer you reward points for participating in fitness activities, such as Zumba classes, swimming programs, etc. You can then “cash in” the points for rewards ranging from cameras to walking shoes. Other programs pay for smoking-cessation classes.

Save hundreds on these special services…

Chances are your health insurer has partnered with companies offering health-related products and services at steep discounts. For example, recent offerings by some plans include a more than $800 discount on Lasik eye-correction surgery…up to 70% off teeth whitening…partial payment for massage therapy for pain management…and much more. Beware: Discount programs change regularly, adding new or discontinuing little-used services. So check regularly with your carrier to find out what’s being offered.