These days, stretching your employee health care benefits can save you bundles of money as employers trim benefits and charge higher out-of-pocket expenses. In 2010, 54 percent of large companies offered at least one high-deductible plan to employees, according to a RAND Corporation study.
Cost-conscious employers are also launching more free preventive care services, including nutritional counseling, gym memberships and medical advocates who can help reduce medical expenses.
"Employers are now giving out awards for using preventive care," says Trent Bryson, CEO of Bryson Financial Group based in Long Beach, Calif. "So, employees can get cash rewards or perk points for getting regular check-ups."
Additionally, some companies offer overlooked benefits such as disability insurance, which are worth checking out.
Here are five tips for maximizing your employee health care benefits.