Controlling Your Health Care Costs in Retirement

It’s no secret that health care becomes a bigger concern for most of us as we grow older. More ailments are likely to develop, which means more money spent to visit health professionals and buy medication. Even if you remain healthy through your later years, the costs of preventative care and preparing for potential unexpected health situations are rising.Health-related expenses will likely be one of the biggest components of your retirement budget. You need to be prepared to pay for comprehensive insurance coverage and potential out-of-pocket costs for care. Here are three strategies to help you manage this critical expense in retirement.Understand how Medicare worksThe good news for Americans age 65 and older is that you qualify for Medicare. That makes increased dependence on health care services more affordable. At age 65, most people automatically qualify for Medicare Part A at no cost, which primarily provides coverage for hospital stays and skilled nursing care. Medicare Part B must be purchased (approximately $109 per month in 2017 for most retirees). Part B covers the costs of visiting a physician, but with some deductibles. Many people purchase additional coverage to use for out-of-pocket expenses, such as a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Supplement policy.With Medicare, timing is important. Signing up when you first qualify for coverage will keep costs at the lowest level. If you maintain insurance through your employer after turning 65, you can delay Medicare enrollment without risking late penalties.If you retire prior to age 65, you will need to purchase insurance on the open market to cover health-related expenses until you become eligible for Medicare. Individual coverage tends to get more expensive as you grow older, so work the cost into your retirement budget. Some employers offer retiree health insurance as a benefit. Check with your human resources department to see if this option is available to you.Allocate sufficient funds for health care costsAs you develop your retirement income strategy, make sure you have money set aside for health expenses that will be your responsibility. By one estimate, the average 66-year-old couple will need to tap more than half of their lifetime pre-tax Social Security benefits to pay for health care expenses throughout retirement. Most people will likely have to rely, in part, on their own savings to help offset some medical expenses.Along with other retirement savings, you may want to establish a health savings account (HSA) during your working years. HSAs are designed to help build tax-advantaged savings to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses you incur during your working years. However, any leftover funds can be applied to health expenses later in life, including premiums for Medicare and long-term care insurance. Keep in mind that you must be enrolled in a high deductible health plan to open an HSA.Focus on your own healthOne way to potentially keep health care costs under control in retirement is to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Small changes you make today, such as eating right or prioritizing sleep, could reduce the likelihood that medical issues will impact you later in life. Being physically active may also benefit your finances in retirement – according to the American Heart Association, it could potentially help you save $500 a year today on health-related expenses.Having a plan doesn’t guarantee that you will avoid heath issues, but you may find comfort in knowing how you can tackle health care costs in retirement.

Home Health Care: For Your Convenience

If you have ever heard of home health care, you probably realized that it could potentially be the best and most convenient option for you when it is time to take care of a parent or other adult who can no longer completely take care of himself or herself. This is something that happens to all of us at some point.Home health care goes by many other names as well. These include domiciliary care, social care, in-home care, and formal care. These are all essentially the same things, and in the following it a few paragraphs we look through what all of that specifically means when it comes to services.Home health care specifically deals with licensed professionals. These are licensed health care specialists who have gone through all of the regulated training sessions in order to be put on a list of people that can practice medicine. This is an important distinction because there are other types of care that do not require this license.Included in this short list of licensed healthcare professionals who can provide home health care are licensed nurses, social workers who have medical experience, physical therapists who have been through regulated courses, and dietitians. These people all have medical experience thus fit in this specific category that you are concerned with right now.This is in direct opposition to non-medical or custodial care. These are the type of people who come in and take care of the elderly more or for a social reason than a medical one. They are not licensed to do things with medication or specific medical devices, and so they have fee different function they perform at your home should you choose to hire them.There is the matter of why you would choose home health care in the first place. Mostly because, there is going to be a time when you have to either send someone to a nursing home or hospital. If this is not something you are interested in quite yet, home healthcare is a responsible alternative where everyone gets what they need.The cost of home health care is quite variable. Sometimes it could be quite a bit more expensive than the hospital or nursing home visit, while on the other hand, the money that you save from sending someone in your home may be to your financial advantage in the end.Home health care is definitely something you should consider for your family or loved ones, or something that they should consider for you if you are getting on in years. It will probably become more popular in the coming years as people are more interested in keeping their family around, rather than sending them away.

Home Health Care Has Many Facets

The concept of home health care has grown dramatically in the last several years. As the dynamics of the modern family have shifted (smaller extended families, homes where all the adults are working, etc.), many of the functions a relative would have performed in the past are being outsourced to organizations that can meet these needs. Being able to provide quality services in the comfortable and familiar setting of the patient’s residence has become part of the mission statement of these mobile medical providers.There are a several types of individual scenarios that can benefit from having access to a professional caregiver who visits the patient (or patients) in their own living space. Listed below is a sampling of those individuals who may use this vital service:Mothers and NewbornsBeing able to provide education and assessment to new mothers and their babies just home from the hospital fulfills a vital role that may have been traditionally performed by a family member. Having a trained medical practitioner on hand can get both mother and child started on the right path.Post-Operative PatientsOften, individuals who have had major surgery require follow-up attention, even after being discharged. Transportation may also be an issue; particularly if the patient is not able to move on their own. Having these evaluations performed at the residence is both convenient and more comfortable for the person who is recovering.Older AmericansTaking care of the elderly who are dealing with medical issues but want to maintain the independence of living on their own is one of the traditional roles of home health care providers. These regular visits help these senior members maintain a good quality of life while having the knowledge that their medical needs will be met.Mentally Disabled AdultsThe need to provide medical and emotional support for these individuals to remain a part of the community is an important function of these traveling caregivers.Younger AdultsFor younger individuals who are recovering from an injury or accidents, and otherwise can manage their own affairs, having the knowledge that a medical professional is on hand adds a layer of comfort as they regain their active lifestyle.Patients with Chronic ConditionsDiseases like diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and heart failure require constant monitoring. Many of those dealing with these chronic issues still want to live on their own and may not require the constant attention of an assisted living facility. Regular visits help these patients maintain their independence without having to sacrifice the medical oversight that they need.Home health care will continue to evolve as the population changes. With the number of older Americans increasing and outpatient care on the upswing, the need for this personalized access will only expand and will include all ages and situations.