Funding Medical Expenses Not Covered by Insurance

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doctor-563428_640The Affordable Care Act promised to lower the costs of health care, but we’re still a long way from affordable health care for all. If you’re still waiting to age into the Medicare system, health care expenses can quickly eat into your budget. Health care costs are 72% higher than they were in 2000, with the average person paying more than $8,000 in health care expenses in 2010. Even if you’ve already entered the golden years of Medicare coverage, Medicare and other health insurance policies might not cover all of your health expenses.

Your health is the most valuable thing you have, but stress about money can greatly undermine your wellness. These four simple strategies can help you reduce your health care expenses.

Be an Informed Consumer of Health Care

Like it or not, medicine is a big business, which means that care providers have a strong incentive to drive up costs. Many hospital bills, for instance, contain grossly unreasonable charges, such as hundreds of dollars for medical equipment that costs mere pennies. It’s not just good for your health to ask your doctor lots of questions; this is also a strategy that can save you tons of money. Some steps that can help you cut costs include:

  • Asking your doctor if a generic alternative to your prescription exists, or if a similar drug might be cheaper.
  • Reviewing your medical bills and disputing unreasonable charges.
  • Asking your doctor if less expensive or invasive tests are available.
  • Taking only the medications that you need, and that work. If a long-term high blood pressure drug isn’t lowering your blood pressure, for instance, it’s time to ditch it.

Consider a Health Savings Account

Some states offer tax-free health savings accounts even for seniors on Medicare. These plans, known as Medicare Medical Savings Accounts, offer benefits similar to traditional health savings accounts. If your state doesn’t offer a Medicare health savings account and you’re nearing 65, sock away as much money as you can now in an account, since these accounts can help you fund and save on medical expenses.

Look at Alternative Funding Methods

When medical catastrophes threaten to undermine your health and financial security, it’s time to think outside the box. Seniors over the age of 62 are eligible for reverse mortgages. A reverse mortgage capitalizes on the equity in your home to give you reliable income that you can use to pay bills, fund medical expenses, or even cover a catastrophic health emergency. Some other options might include:

  • Taking on a part-time or web-based job.
  • Picking up some consulting work in your field of expertise.
  • Selling antiques online or in a local store.
  • Transferring credit card balances to cards with a zero-interest introductory rate so you can save on your monthly payments, get out of debt, and have more credit available to fund future medical expenses.

Buy a Medicare Supplement Plan

Medigap, better known as Medicare Supplemental Insurance, fills in the gaps that Medicare leaves behind. You must have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B to be eligible. But if you are eligible, you can purchase your plan on the health care marketplace just like you purchased your Medicare plan. These plans are guaranteed renewable, even if you face health problems, but you cannot purchase such a plan if you have a Medicare Medical Savings Account.

Annie Doisy is a reverse mortgage expert who helps seniors enhance their lives by taking advantage of the equity in their homes. Annie writes forĀ where her goal is to educate consumers on a wide range of topics around mortgages and other financial services.

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