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Healthy Tips

Taking Stock of Your Year-End Health Needs

7 Steps to Maximize Your Health and Wellness Before Year-End

As the year winds down, taking a look at your current benefits and making some smart decisions can save you money and set you up for a healthier 2018.

Use your Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

If you have an FSA, any money left at the end of the year may be lost, so you’ll want to spend every penny (and check with your employer for specific rules about your plan). What if you don’t have any pressing medical bills? Purchase a prescription refill, pick up a new set of eyeglasses, order more contact lenses or schedule that long-overdue dental exam. If you’re scheduling an appointment, remember that people across the country may also be trying to empty out their FSA accounts, so expect longer wait times and more crowded waiting rooms.

Maximize your Health Savings Account (HSA)

For 2017, the IRS has a maximum contribution limit on this pre-tax income of $3,400 for individuals and $6,750 for families (higher for individuals 55 and older). This total includes any matching employer funds. If you are not maxed out for the year, talk to your Human Resources Department about putting in more money before the deadline, which is actually April 17, 2018, for the 2017 tax year. Go to for more information about HSAs.

Enroll or change your Affordable Care Act insurance plan

Open enrollment ends earlier this year, on December 15. If you want to get coverage under the ACA and learn if you also qualify for a subsidy, visit If you are uninsured in 2018, you may pay a penalty to the government, so explore your options on Learn how to select an in-network plan for Northwestern Medicine.

Make changes to your Medicare coverage

Open enrollment for all Medicare ends December seventh. Take this time to review your coverage options and see whether you would be better served with a different plan or supplemental insurance. Visit You can learn more about Northwestern Medicine’s participation in Medicare.

Plan ahead

While you’re jotting down your New Year’s Resolutions, consider making some health resolutions, too. For example, make it your goal to schedule an annual check-up with a primary care physician. Don’t have a primary care physician? Learn what to look for in a primary care physician, then find one at

Remind yourself

Are you due for a mammogram, colonoscopy, cholesterol test or other screening exam in 2018? Even if these visits aren’t needed until later in the year, create a reminder in your phone now so you get an alert in plenty of time to make the appointment. If you’re not sure what you’re due for, check out these recommendations for men and women.

Commit to a healthy year

Step on the scale. Take some measurements. Look at your lifestyle. Talk to your physician about what healthy habits to implement (or maintain), and how to give up the behaviors that are getting in the way of your health goals.

Not sure what “getting healthy” means for you? Explore our wellness database to make 2018 your healthiest year yet.