Planning for Unexpected Senior Health Care Expenses
When planning for the future, many older adults save in the hopes of living comfortably. Unfortunately, rising senior health care expenses makes this a challenge.
An unexpected medical emergency can quickly derail these dreams, and hidden health care fees add insult to injury.
As you plan for retirement, consider sharing your retirement strategy with an accountant or financial advisor. Doing so goes a long way to ensure that even with unexpected health care costs, you can enjoy your golden years.
Here’s how seniors can better plan for retirement and stay ahead of unexpected health care fees.
Common Health Care Expenses
A 2019 article from USA Today revealed that dental, hearing, vision, and long-term care are four expenses that many don’t take into account while planning for the future.
These are essential aspects of senior health care, but unfortunately, they also have unexpected costs.
Although dental health is just as important as mental and physical health, many health insurance plans, including Medicare, do not cover routine or complicated procedures.
According to USA Today, the average Medicare enrollee spent on average of more than $900 on out-of-pocket expenses.
A Medicare Advantage plan is one option for seniors who are worried about these types of expenses.
Not only do Advantage plans offer the same amount of coverage as Medicare, but they also cover additional health care costs like dental care.
Alternatively, you can purchase dental insurance, but these plans are often costly and lack the amount of coverage needed to justify their price.
Not only does Medicare not cover dental care, but it also lacks coverage for another valuable senior health care service: hearing.
USA Today revealed that a digital hearing aid could cost between $1,500 and $5,000 on average.
For those on a tight budget or a fixed income, this type of unexpected cost is devastating. When facing these numbers, many seniors must forgo things like hearing services.
These can be extremely challenging for maintaining a sound quality of life, so saving for these types of health care expenses is essential.
Medicare Advantage may be able to make the cost of a new hearing aide more affordable. But, it’s essential that you carefully research plans to make sure it’s right for you.
Medicare covers some vision care costs, such as diagnosing and treating eye disease, injuries, or trauma. That includes services for treating cataracts, glaucoma, and the subsequent treatment plans.
But, routine eye appointments or other aspects of vision care, including screenings and glasses, are not included.
Medicare Advantage will cover some of these senior health care costs. But, it’s important to compare the prices between Advantage plans and regular Medicare.
Nearly 70% of seniors need some form of long-term care, either in a nursing facility or an in-home caregiver.
Although Medicare covers some expenses, older adults will find that many basic services have very little coverage–or none at all.
USA Today reported that nursing services or care facility stays are only covered if they are due to a medical problem or recovery from a particular procedure.
In addition, Medicare does not cover assistance tied to activities of daily living (ADLs).
To help offset the astronomical costs of nursing facilities, try to find long-term care insurance during your 50s or early 60s.
How to Plan for Hidden Senior Health Care Costs
The best way that you can plan for unexpected senior health care costs is by researching Medicare Advantage and private insurance plans.
Medicare Advantage potentially covers other medical expenses that other plans consider out-of-pocket, such as:
- Custodial care for helping with ADLs
- Dental procedures and preventative care (e.g., checkups and cleanings)
- Hearing aids and other devices
- Regular vision care
When it comes to planning for long-term care, you may find that private insurance your best bet. However, these types of plans can be costly.
If the costs of long-term care aren’t justifiable, opening a different savings account that accrues interest might be a better option.
Tax Deductions for Health Care
You can take advantage of tax deductions meant specifically for mitigating the expenses of senior health care. Being aware of different discounts can go a long way to help you plan for the future.
Additionally, you might be able to claim out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance on your tax returns.
Deductions are based on age and adjusted gross income. They might include ADLs and personal care services if a licensed health care practitioner deems you chronically ill.
Also, you should discuss the probability of insurance premium rebates for plans that include long-term care or medical insurances with an accountant.
Sadly, senior health care is full of hidden expenses and fees. Therefore, thinking ahead and learning as much as possible about available deductions is crucial.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Plan
There are several factors seniors should think about when choosing the right health insurance.
Consider Out-of-Pocket Costs
When shopping for senior health care plans, you may focus on more premiums than anything else. However, out-of-pocket costs (or cost-sharing expenses) can quickly turn a low-cost plan into financial trouble.
Out-of-pocket expenditures can differ from policy to policy. As of 2016, the Affordable Care Act cost-sharing expenses are limited to $6,850 for individuals and $13,700 for families.
While understanding the language of cost-sharing policies can be difficult, you must take time to assess these costs.
Under the ACA, seniors are qualified for preventative care, including checkups, immunizations, etc., even if the deductible has not been met.
It’s important to take the deductible, co-pay, and coinsurance into consideration as you find the right health care plan.
Look At More Than The Premium
It’s tempting to choose the policy with the most affordable premium, but you might end up paying more down the road.
Plans with low premiums often have more expensive out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.
A plan with a higher premium might cost more each month, but you don’t have to worry about extra or unexpected bills.
Get the Right Coverage
Ensure that the plan you purchase covers medical care specific to your needs, especially if you suffer from a chronic illness that necessitates continuous care.
Buying a cheaper health care plan might be more affordable at first, but it will be for nothing if you are suddenly faced with medical problems not covered with your plan.
Seniors should also take this into account for their prescriptions. Insurance companies are required to cover a minimum of one drug in every medication category and class.
But that doesn’t mean every prescription is covered, so you should look for a plan that includes your particular medicine the most.
Check Network Coverage
As you examine various senior health care plans, make sure that your medical team is part of the network.
Also, be aware that some plans need a referral to see a specialist as well as insurer permission before undergoing a pricey procedure.
Read Between the Lines
Lastly, make sure always to read the fine print. Although the ACA has established a minimum standard of care, many insurance companies include loopholes in their policies.
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