Two your boys wearing swim trunks applying sunscreen

There's nothing quite like relaxing in the sun—soaking it in, feeling the warmth flow through your body. However, enjoying the sun also brings serious health risks: The sun's harmful UV rays can lead to skin cancer and certain eye diseases like cataracts.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 3.3 million Americans get skin cancer each year. More than 76,000 cases of melanoma—the fastest growing and deadliest form of skin cancer—were reported in 2016 alone.

How can you protect yourself against skin cancer? Watch for skin changes—and don't be afraid to ask family or friends to help.

One Regence member, Chuck, didn't find his cancer—his wife did. After spotting changes in a small mole on his face, she insisted that he see a dermatologist. Chuck had the most common type of skin cancer, which was a huge relief. However, other types of skin cancer, like melanoma, can be deadly if you don't catch them early.

Over the years, Chuck has had several cancerous spots treated or removed. Thanks to his wife's keen eye, he's now proactive and goes to the dermatologist regularly for skin checks. Chuck's story is an excellent reminder of how important it is to pay attention to the warning signs of cancer.

You don't need to completely avoid the sun to stay safe. There are some simple steps you can take to lower your risk of skin cancer or detect it early—and your health plan can help. Read on to learn how.

Find a dermatologist

If you have moles or freckles you're concerned about, it's a good idea to get them examined by a dermatologist. Dermatologists can detect skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage and provide prevention techniques.

To find a dermatologist near you, use Find a Doctor and search for "Dermatology." Remember to sign in first, so your results show dermatologists in your network.

Start your search

Get sunglasses and more with your HSA or FSA

Did you know that you can use the pre-tax dollars set aside in your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to visit a dermatologist? Whether you need a general checkup or have a specific skin concern, your HSA or FSA can help you save.

Aside from doctor visits, you can use HSA or FSA funds for sun protection. Prescription sunglasses qualify as an eligible medical expense. Sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher, as well as medicated sunburn ointments, are also eligible.

Read up on HSAs and FSAs

Access care 24/7 through telehealth

With a busy schedule, it can sometimes be hard to squeeze in doctor appointments. Luckily, many doctors, including dermatologists, now offer appointments over video chat.

Find out if your dermatologist offers virtual visits—so it can be even easier to get moles or other skin changes looked at quickly.

Learn more about telehealth

Know before you go

Before scheduling your appointment with a dermatologist, try using the Cost Estimator. You can see how much the visit will be, or search for "skin lesion removal" and see the cost for this procedure.

With the Cost Estimator, you can better budget for your health care needs. You can even use it to shop around and find the most affordable providers in your area.

Estimate your costs

Regence is here to help—whether you're wondering about the cost of a dermatologist visit or curious about lab testing. With these tools to help with prevention and detection, you can go back to enjoying the sun with peace of mind.