The idea that Medicare will cover all of your healthcare expenses might be one of the most common retirement myths. That isn’t actually true at all! While Medicare will cover many of your bills, coverage sometimes kicks in only after you have paid out-of-pocket fees. And, some services aren’t covered at all, such as eye exams, hearing aids, and dental necessities like dentures.
Some estimates place the cost of healthcare, for a 65-year-old couple retiring this year, at about $350,000 over the course of their retirement years. If you need long-term nursing care at some point, you will incur additional expenses on top of that. Saving more money for retirement is one obvious solution, but most retirees can take the following steps to lower their healthcare costs overall.
Negotiate. The cost of most services will vary from one provider to another, but can often be negotiated. This is particularly true for dental care.
Compare prices before agreeing to a procedure. As we said, costs can vary across providers. Just because one doctor recommends a procedure, does not mean you must use his or her services. Facilities, in particular, can vary in price. So check with several hospitals and outpatient care centers before deciding upon a location for your treatment.
Identify community resources. Many communities offer low-price medical and dental services, often through university outreach programs. Since these services aren’t widely advertised, it would pay to research options in your area.
Skip unnecessary procedures. We learn new things all the time, such as the fact that women over 65 are at very low risk of cervical cancer after three negative screenings. Or, that a colonoscopy after age 75 doesn’t offer much protection against colon cancer. Ask your doctor about your own risk of various diseases, and together you can decide if a procedure is really necessary.
Talk to your doctor about your prescription medications. Most of us know that generic versions of common drugs are usually cheaper than the brand names. But did you know that prescriptions can vary significantly according to dosages? For example, if the 100 mg version of your medication is much cheaper than the 50 mg pills you’ve been taking, ask your doctor if simply halving the 100 mg pills would be an acceptable solution.
Prevent health problems from developing. Obviously, we can’t always prevent everything… But a wholesome diet, regular exercise, and abstaining from unhealthy habits can go a long way. Fewer health problems translates into lower medical bills, both now and in the future.
Work with a qualified health insurance agent. An experienced agent can assist you in finding Medicare coverage that will address your major medical concerns and you’d be surprised at how much your out-of-pocket costs can vary based on the plan you select.
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