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healthinsurance.com how to prepare for your aging parents' future, family walking together and smiling
Retirement is one of life’s biggest milestones. But with the celebration comes challenging decisions to make before and during retirement: finances, living situations, healthcare, and insurance, to name a few. And if you’re helping your parents with their retirement planning, you might already be completing online forms, making calls, and supporting them with these decisions that impact their futures as retirees. The planning can be overwhelming, so try breaking it down into four buckets: financial planning, healthcare, living arrangements and health insurance. With these buckets in mind, you'll need to ask things like: What will my parents' monthly income and budget look like? Is the money sufficient to maintain a comfortable standard of living? Are there current or impending health concerns to plan for? Are there plans for relocation after retirement? Will long-term care or home health care be needed? Plan ahead with these four tips 1. Face the facts with financial planning Though many baby boomers made sound financial retirement plans, nearly 50% did not. And still, the economic crash of 2008 challenged people's savings accounts - even those who planned ahead. Those who wisely chose conservative retirement portfolios feel a pinch because many will outlive their investments. So inevitably: People are working longer than expected. In fact, nearly 11 million people over the age of 65 will continue in the workforce because they simply cannot afford to retire. But aside from working longer, your parents may want to improve their financial situation in the following ways: Downsize their home. A smaller home gives your parents more money back in their pockets. A smaller home is also easier to navigate and keep clean. Make lifestyle changes. Eliminating a second car or relocating to an area where the cost-of-living is lower are some things retirees are doing to improve their financial situation. Some also find that volunteering helps fill time that would otherwise consume income. Move in with their children. This generally happens only after they have no alternative. But know that this decision takes careful planning and patience. Sign up for Medicaid. If seniors have a very low retirement income, they may qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. This will be especially helpful if they face costly medical care and potential long term care. Shop for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. There are advantages to both plan types, but a senior can only enroll in one or the other. That said, your parents can make individual choices so that one might have Medicare Advantage, while the other has a supplemental policy. These plans can help seniors to. better manage health care costs. 2. Talk to your parents' about their health Most people have a pretty good idea of the health concerns they'll face as they age. As examples, it's likely that life-long smokers know they have a higher-than-average risk of developing lung disease, cancer, or heart conditions. Someone who is overweight and inactive knows their risk of diabetes is higher. And people with a family history of certain cancers know their personal risk is higher. Know that it's OK to discuss potential and existing health concerns with your parents now before they become unmanageable later in life. While the conversation might be uncomfortable, it's a necessary step in the planning process. 3. Discuss living arrangements When the time is right, you may want to talk with your parents about long-term care, home health care, or other living arrangements, depending on their situation. Long-term care The first thing to know: Medicare does not cover long-term care. But some services associated with long-term care may be covered. Long-term care is for those who are disabled or have chronic conditions, which prevent them from managing many of their daily needs including: Preparing meals Bathing/showering Getting dressed Housekeeping Transportation Though Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, Medicaid does. There are also separate long-term care insurance plans available for purchase. But know that the right time to get this coverage is before it's needed. Home health care Home health care includes medical and non-medical assistance in your own home. For instance, bathing assistance and performing simple chores around the home like washing dishes may be provided by home health care providers. Just don't ask them to repair your ceiling fan. For good reason, home health care is an option that's on the rise and is expected to keep growing. Thanks to the Chronic Care Act of 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has authorized expanding some home health care coverage in 2020 via Medicare Advantage plans - a good step if you or your parents will need these services. One word of caution: Changes continue to be made to the increasingly popular Medicare Advantage program, so you'll want to pay attention to these important changes. Relocation If your parents are in good health, you may still want to give them food for thought if they plan to relocate to a warmer, sunnier state. For instance, Original Medicare and Medigap coverage will be unaffected as those are not tied to specific service areas. On the other hand, Medicare Advantage and Part D are mostly tied to specific service areas so a plan change may be necessary. That said, relocation may be beneficial, just be sure to consult with a health insurance agent first. Ask your parents to move in Though it can be a sensitive situation, you may opt to have your parents live with you during their retirement. But be sure to think of things like ways to help them with mobility, especially as they age. For example, you might need to install wheelchair ramps, safety rails in shower stalls, or other safety precautions. Some of these features may be covered by Medicare, so consider these options when looking into Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement policies for your parents. 4. Understand health insurance: Medicaid vs. Medicare options Insurance is all about protection and peace of mind. And although no one can predict the future, having a sound insurance policy in place can protect your aging parents (and you) from potential financial distress. The simple fact is that Original Medicare does not cover everything and most seniors will need more. That is why Part C (Medicare Advantage), Part D and various Medicare supplements were developed. And some may qualify for dual-enrollment in Medicare and Medicaid. That's because Medicare is federally administered while Medicaid is provided through the state. If a person or couple fall within certain federally-mandated poverty guidelines, they may qualify for both. This will provide them with 100% coverage at no to very low cost. To see if your parents may qualify for dual-enrollment, visit Medicaid's Seniors & Medicare and Medicaid Enrollees page. You'll find charts that show income levels for qualifying by region. If your parents qualify, you won't have to shop for Medigap plans. In other words: There's no need for a supplemental policy. So if you're helping your parents, you'll want to first look at their current Medicare plans to see if they're cost-effective and fit with their specific health needs. You will also want to list all sources of income. If they do not have one, help them create a budget so that you can know what they can afford and perhaps where they may need to make changes. Today there are far more options available. Many seniors are not as comfortable using the Internet as their children are. You can help them in a huge way by simply helping then navigate the web and doing research with them. Another way to help is by making a call for them to a licensed agent who can help. Talk to an agent about Medicare options Whether they're months away from retirement or already retired, our appointed licensed Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement agents are available to discuss options with you today. They can help you learn about plans in your area or any area your parents may be planning to move. So why not save time and consult with an agent about Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plans? He or she will help you navigate your options to make an informed choice. The sooner you help your aging parents plan for the future, the better. After all, you and your parents don't have to be alone when planning for retirement expenses.
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healthinsurance.com nine ways to save on healthcare costs during retirement, group of retirees smiling and playing football
The average cost of healthcare for seniors in retirement, including insurance premiums and cost shares like copays or deductibles, is about $499 per month. In other words: The cost of healthcare generally consumes just over one-third of many retiree's income. This is a staggering statistic given that the average Social Security benefit is only $1,470 per month. That's why finding ways to save on healthcare costs during your retirement should be top of mind. Yes, a good diet and exercise regimen are a key ingredient to staying healthy, but there are other things you can do. Consider these nine tips. 1. Take care of your health Finding ways to improve your general health and wellness can lower your out-of-pocket health care costs. After all, fewer trips to the doctor means fewer copays and less money spent on healthcare. Try these four basic tips to improve your overall health after age 60: Drink plenty of water and eat foods high in water. Think cucumbers, watermelon and celery. Eat more protein to protect muscle mass. Muscles tend to shrink and weaken as we age, so it's important to fuel yourself with protein, which is especially helpful to prevent slips and falls. Don't forget to strength train. Strength training burns calories and protects your muscles. Work with your new metabolism. It's no secret that you have to eat differently than you did in your 20s. Eating smaller meals is often best for maintaining higher energy levels and general wellness. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before you make any changes to your diet or exercise regimen. 2. Reduce stress Stress often increases with age, leading to a host of health problems. For example, you might worry about your high healthcare costs or becoming a potential burden to your children. Finding ways to lower your stress can go a long way. There are many simple ways to reduce stress in your daily life. Try things like having a set routine each day, spending more time with friends and family, and reducing your caffeine intake. And don't forget to laugh more. 3. Use your benefits It may sound contradictory, but going to the doctor can ultimately lower your healthcare costs. Most insurance plans, including Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans, come with certain wellness benefits. Getting regular physicals and patient-specific tests can uncover minor health problems before they become major ones. Let's say a man gets a routine PSA blood test done, which reveals the possibility of low-grade prostate cancer. Early intervention makes the treatment cost far less early on, resulting in fewer trips to the doctor and fewer copays. In other words: lower cost. 4. Save money on medications The cost of medications for seniors continues to rise at an alarming rate. So naturally, drug costs may be a concern for you. One of the simplest ways to save is to find the right Medicare Part D plan for you. Start by comparing quotes and talking to an insurance agent who is willing to research the medications you take. The right agent will have knowledge of all the pharmacies close to your home and plans available in your area. He or she can also help you identify ways to save on your prescriptions. 5. Know the difference between emergency care and urgent care Some people don't know the difference between emergency care and urgent care. But knowing which option to use in a given situation can save you money: Emergency room visits can cost far more than urgent care center visits. Your initial reaction might be to go to the ER when you need medical treatment but can't see your primary care doctor. But in many cases, an urgent care facility will serve you just as well at a lower cost. Start by keeping a list of nearby ERs and urgent care centers handy. An urgent care visit is good for a minor illness or injury, but if your condition is life-threatening, always go to the ER. Many Medicare Advantage insurance plans also include a "phone-a-nurse" or "phone-a-doctor" benefit, which can serve the same purpose. 6. Request outpatient services when possible Did you know that some inpatient procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis? Often, doctors choose to have a procedure performed on an inpatient basis, simply for the convenience of the patient and the medical staff. Many procedures do require a medically supervised period of recovery, but not all of them. The bottom line: There's nothing wrong with asking your doctor if a procedure can be performed in an outpatient clinic rather than at the hospital. If so, the savings can be significant. 7. Choose your doctors wisely Just because a physician or facility accepts Medicare doesn't mean that your costs will be controlled. There are two things to consider when choosing a healthcare provider who takes Medicare patients: First, check if the provider accepts assignment. This means that the provider has agreed to accept the Medicare-approved amount as full payment for services. If your provider doesn't accept assignment, then your out-of-pocket costs may be higher. Second, choose the right doctor for you. The ideal provider has specialized experience with those age 65 and over, which can save you repeated visits to the doctor. One way to shop around for doctors and specialists is through the physician compare feature on Medicare.gov. You can use this tool to comparing providers in your area, or you may opt to discuss the topic with a licensed insurance agent. Regardless of which option you choose, shopping around for the right provider might save you money. 8. Use a health savings account (HSA) Whether you're approaching retirement or already retired, you may have access to a Health Savings Account (HSA) through your employer (or previous employer). Using an HSA can save you money because your contributions are pre-tax dollars and can accrue interest. And unlike a Flexible Savings Account (FSA), the HSA is owned by you, so it can carry over into your retirement. And there is no deadline on when you can spend the funds. 9. Find the right Medicare plan for you Perhaps the single best way to save money on healthcare during retirement is to find the right health insurance plan for you, like a Medicare Supplement plan. Your ideal Medicare insurance plan will include ways to help you improve your overall health. As examples, most plans offer smoking cessation programs at low to no cost. A Medicare Advantage plan can also lower your stress by helping you to better manage prescription costs, copays and other health concerns. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all health insurance plan, so talk to your licensed health insurance agent to find the right set of plans for you. You can save on healthcare costs during retirement As a retiree you might have questions about ways to save on healthcare costs. Aside from controlling costs, the most common questions center on the differences between Original Medicare and Medicare Supplemental and Medicare Advantage plans. So if you have questions, why not request a consultation with a licensed agent today? We're here to help you along the way.
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