The older we get, the more vulnerable we become to disease and debilitating health conditions. Being eligible for Medicare once you attain the age of 65 is therefore a source of much needed reassurance and peace of mind. Still, Medicare may substantially reduce but will not entirely eliminate your health costs; there’ll be situations where you’ll have to pay out of pocket.
Whereas Medicare premiums are predictable, procedures and tests that aren’t covered, sudden health crises, and the cost of prescription drugs can suddenly imperil even the most elaborately planned retirement plans. Ergo, the following are some of the ways healthcare for senior citizens can be more affordable.
1. Explore Non-Insurance Options
Medicare doesn’t cover most dental and vision services. You can save on these costs with a discount plan. The plans are usually offered by discount companies, non-profit organizations, unions or banks. For a fixed monthly fee, you qualify for discounts of between 20 and 60 percent on services outside the scope of Medicare.
Take time to understand the discount plan before you sign up. Whereas many plans are legitimate and straightforward, there are those that offer little benefit. Be especially careful about plans that emphasize discounts of ‘up to’ an unusually attractive number such as 70 percent. In reality, the actual average discount will be much lower.
When you are not sure which plan will be most suitable for you, contact your doctor or healthcare provider to establish whether they participate in the program. Some plans will display a long list of participating healthcare providers when only a few actually do.
2. Go to a Dental School
Dental services are expensive. Yet, not everyone is aware that you can get quality dental services at your local dental school at a much lower cost than at a dentist’s office. It’s cheaper because the procedures are carried out by students. While they don’t have the experience of an established dentist, they are supervised by seasoned instructors and use the latest equipment.
One disadvantage though is that since the procedure is part of the students’ training, it often takes longer than usual. Also, the low cost means most dental schools will have a waiting list. Nevertheless, for retirees looking to have a routine procedure done affordably, a dental school is a viable option.
3. Save on Eyeglasses
When you next update your eyeglasses prescription, enquire from the optometrist about the possibility of keeping the current frames. Frames are often responsible for roughly half the cost of eyeglasses. As long as your current frames are functional, their reuse can keep your overall expenses down.
If the frames are unusable and you must buy new ones, skip designer brands and go for generic models. Ask your doctor if they are aware of special deals or older models now available at a cheaper price. If you are a AAA or AARP member, check your eligibility for discounts at major retailers such as Sears Optical, Pearle Vision and LensCrafters.
4. Cross-check Your Medical Bills
A Wolters Kluwer Health poll found that 45 percent of Americans said that they had received an incorrect medical bill at least once. While many people tend to go with whatever they are presented with, these documents should be closely examined in the same one would study a receipt from a retailer or restaurant. A medical bill tends to be considerably larger so demands even closer scrutiny.
Medical procedures and prescription drugs are billed using predefined codes. Therefore, a simple data entry error could have substantial cost implications. Call your doctor or health provider for clarification if you see charges for services or items you didn’t receive.
Soaring medical costs are the number one cause of individual bankruptcy. Any opportunity available to senior citizens that can keep healthcare expenses low must be utilized.