In the United States, the standard retirement age is 65, although it is gradually increasing to 67. Such individuals are referred to as senior citizens and they usually receive pensions or medical benefits. If you are already part of this group or if you are about to reach your retirement age, your primary concern would be how to live comfortably with the amount of pension you’re receiving.
In the following sections, we will dish out tips on how seniors can save on health care as well as their other everyday living expenses. if you want to know how seniors can cut expenses, keep on reading and you’ll find out!
Top Ways for Seniors to Save on Health Care
Unless you saved up really well for your retirement years, the budget that you would have living as a senior will be quite limited. This is especially true if you are only relying on your pension or other work-related benefits.
If you have to live within a certain budget on a monthly basis during your retirement years, how are you supposed to take care of your health-related expenses? The problem with growing old is that you are more prone to ageing-related diseases.
Any bad habits that you may have had during your youth will slowly catch up on you in the form of health problems. Also, the fact that your body during your 70s is not the same as it was when you were in your 50s will lead you to have one or more of the following conditions:
- Breathing-related problems;
- Falling, slipping or tripping accidents which can lead to fractures;
- Heart problems;
- Parkinson’s disease;
- Vision problems.
You will also have slower reflexes which may hamper your abilities to drive; your skin will be thinner and leathery so wounds will take longer to heal; your immune system will get weaker; and your appetite will not be the same as it was during your youth.
With the prevalence of these ageing-related health conditions, most of your retirement money might be spent on medication, doctor’s visits, laboratory tests, etc. This is precisely the reason why you should be aware of the ways by which you can save money on senior health care.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser family Foundation, one out of four people with Medicare allotted 30% of their income on health care in 2006 alone. With the continued rise of cost related to senior health care, how can the dollar be stretched? Take a look at the following tips:
Prevention is always better than cure.
This may be a cliché but prevention is always better than cure. If most seniors end up spending their retirement money on health care-related expenses due to the follies of their youth, what can you do to not fall under this category? Staying as physically active as possible while keeping your mind sharp at the same time is a great way to reverse the signs of ageing.
Steer clear of food items which have too much fat. According to a study published by Health Affairs in 2009, overweight and obese individuals – senior or otherwise – will spend 42% higher on medical costs as compared to a person with normal weight. Overweight seniors in particular spend double on Medicare due to health-related concerns stemming from eating too much fatty foods.
Another way to keep your stay at the hospital to a minimum is to check on your existing health care plan. Depending on your insurance provider, there are health care services that you can get free of charge. For instance, those who have Medicare can get annual flu shots for free, as well as Hepatitis and pneumococcus injections.
Counseling for smoking cessation; health screenings to detect breast, colon and prostate cancer; as well as a good number of other preventive health care treatments are available. Be reminded, however, that treatment which results from screening may have to be paid for from your own pocket if the condition is not covered on your Medicare plan.
Choose a health care plan that best suits your needs.
Once you reach your senior years, it’s a good idea to assess your existing financial situation first. Make a list of your financial obligations, your living costs and your medical care costs. When you retired from work, what kind of medical benefit and pension did you get? Based from this, you can determine which health care plan will best suit your needs.
Those who are enrolled in Medicare and have limited income may take advantage of programs like Medicare Savings. Take the time to learn about Part B premiums, additional health care costs and the resource eligibility limit of each part of such programs.
Learning as much information as you can about the health care plans that you currently have, and the ones that you will need in the future, will help you manage your health care expenses as a senior.
Learn how deductibles work.
Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance are some of the plans that senior citizens have. Read through the Terms and Conditions of these plans so that you would know what to expect in case you do find the need to file for health care claims. For this, it pays to understand what a deductible is.
Have you met your deductible for the year? If not, you may schedule a medical procedure right away. On the other hand, those who have not spent as much towards their deductible might want to delay going through major or minor surgeries until such time that the schedule is right – based on the coverage of the health care plan.
If you have to undergo a minor or major surgery, always get a second opinion.
A back surgery, a hip replacement surgery, and other major operations will take its toll – not just on your body but on your budget as well. Before going through expensive tests or treatments, always get a second opinion so that you would know if the procedure is your best course of treatment.
Avoid using your credit card when paying for health care services.
A credit card may prove to be a godsend for those instances when you need to go through emergency medical procedures. However, you would have to pay for extra interest charges if you are unable to shell out at least the minimum payment for your monthly credit card bill.
Also, there are hospitals and clinics which offer discounts for patients who pay for any kind of medical service in cash, so think twice before swiping that plastic card.
Know how to get discounts for dental and vision care.
Check out the websites of EyeCare America, the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, or the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. To save on dental and vision care, you can ask them about free or low-cost treatments.
There are also programs which offer free or discounted eye care for seniors who qualify. Individuals who have a family history of glaucoma or those with diabetes may qualify for routine eye exams under Medicare – so always check your existing health plans.
Take advantage of senior discounts and coupons.
Go online or cut coupons from magazines so that you can get discounts for typical pain relief medications, bandages, even hearing aid batteries. It also would not hurt to go generic so that you can take advantage of lower prices of medication.
One thing to take note of is that if you must buy your medication online, make sure that the site is VIPPS-certified. This way, you can rest assured that the products are not counterfeit.
Additional money-saving tips for seniors.
As you can see, health care does take the brunt of the expenses of most senior citizens. When it comes to other aspects of their daily lives, how can seniors save money?
When you do not have the pressures of work to keep you busy, you might turn into an impulsive buyer. This will not do your limited budget any favors, so only go on once-a-week shopping trips. Make a list of the things that you need, plan your meals and do your errands all at once so you can save on gas money.
When it comes to your house, do you really need that huge five-bedroom property when it is only you and your spouse who are living in it? Once all the kids move out, maintaining a big house will take its toll on your budget. Consider moving into a smaller place with the facilities which are safer and more convenient to live in for seniors.
Also consider refinancing your mortgage and pay any fees annually if you can – this will save you a lot on premiums and other expenses.
Aside from health care expenses, you can also save on other purchases as a senior citizen. Take advantage of senior discounts as often as you can. When it’s that time of the year to pay for taxes, find age-related tax breaks.
More importantly, make sure that you have a living will for health care decisions, property distribution and a representative assigned in the event of incapacity.
Life as a senior may prove to be a challenge if you have limited income but with these money-saving tips, you should be able to live comfortably.