There’s been a lot of talk lately about healthcare, and whether or not people could lose their coverage. Hopefully, you’re one of the lucky ones. Hopefully, you had a long and satisfying career with a company that offered a hefty pension or some other form of fantastic retirement benefits. Hopefully, you won’t have to worry about how you will afford trips to your doctor, the prescriptions you need, etc. But if you aren’t (or are pretty sure you won’t be) one of the lucky ones, don’t fret! Here are some of the options available to you that will help make your healthcare costs more affordable.
The first healthcare program most of us think about when we think about healthcare post-retirement is Medicare. At the time of this article’s writing, in order to be eligible for Medicare you must be 65 years old and a US citizen (or permanent resident). Exceptions are made for those who don’t meet the age requirement but who do suffer from a variety of diseases or disabilities.
Medicare is the federally funded healthcare system that makes the costs of aging easier for people to afford and access. It is important to understand, however, the program doesn’t cover 100% of your medical needs and there are restrictions about which doctors you can see, which meds you can get, etc. If you have needs beyond the limits of your program, though, don’t worry! There are many options out there for those who want and need to save money.
The Medicaid expansion (frequently called Obamacare, which has led to a lot of confusion from people trying to apply for insurance) is a program that allows people of all ages to affordably access basic healthcare. The benefits vary from state to state. In some states, it covers dental health and mental health care as well as medical care.
For retirees whose Medicare coverage doesn’t quite completely cover their healthcare needs, the Medicaid expansion is a fantastic way to offset those remaining out of pocket costs. Take some time to find out what’s available in your state. You can apply via fax, mail, and online, through the process tends to progress faster if you apply over the phone.
Reducing Prescription Costs
For many, it isn’t the cost of the doctor visit that causes stress (though they are rarely cheap). It is the cost of prescriptions that can and often do break the budget. Many pharmacies will offer a flat price for the generic versions of prescription meds to help patients offset costs. If your pharmacy doesn’t offer this or if their generic pricing is still too high, don’t worry! Most pharmacies offer a variety of discount programs. There are also a wide variety of prescription coupon services out there. The easiest to use is GoodRx which offers coupon codes and will tell you how much your medication will cost at all of your local pharmacies so you can choose the best deal offered for your specific prescription.
Improving Your Health
Of course, no article about affording healthcare after retirement would be complete without at least a short section about being proactive about your health. As we age, the importance of taking the offensive approach to our health becomes more important. If you just play defense, your costs will skyrocket!
Make sure you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet and getting enough exercise every day. If you’re unsure of where to start or what to do, a good place to start is with the DASH diet. This diet is built to help improve and repair cardiac health through healthy eating and regular exercise. You can also work with a nutritionist or trainer (if those are services you can afford). If you prefer to explore on your own, take care to choose meal and workout plans that are designed for people who are older and who have retired.
Retirement is supposed to be awesome. If you’re constantly worried about how you’ll afford your medical costs, these years will just feel stressful. Use these tips to help you make your healthcare costs more affordable so you can spend more time enjoying your retirement!