5 tips for saving on health care costs

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Health care costs will be one of the most significant expenses in retirement due to the compounding effect of health care inflation, according to the HealthView Services’ Retirement Health Care Costs Data Report. That means it’s more important than ever to budget carefully for health care and save where you can.

Here are some simple ideas that can help you add a little more money to your budget.

  1. Work on maintaining your health.
    The best way to save on future health care costs is to stay as healthy as possible. It's important to find ways to maintain or improve your health and reduce the risk of disease. Preventive care is a great place to start and a doctor can suggest what’s right for you based on your age, gender, and family history. Preventive care services can include:
  • Yearly wellness examinations
  • Flu shots
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol tests
  • Diabetes and colon cancer screenings
  • Breast exams, mammograms, and PAP smears

In many cases, preventive screening services are covered by Medicare Part B. Visit Medicare.gov for a complete list. A Medicare Supplement plan can help pay for what Medicare approves but does not pay for.

  1. Manage chronic conditions.
    With chronic ailments like diabetes and arthritis, knowledge is power. Learning can give you a feeling of control over your condition. Ask a personal physician for resources. Seek out associations or foundations that offer advice, tips, and encouragement. The more you know about managing a chronic condition, the more you may save down the line.
  2. Understand your health insurance. 
    Whether you’re enrolled in Medicare, Medicare Supplement, vision or dental plans, you need to take the time to read and understand your insurance benefits for medical care and prescription drugs. Knowing what is and isn’t covered can help you budget for out-of-pocket costs. Contact your insurance providers with any questions you may have.
  3. Reduce prescription drug spending.
    We all know that the cost of just about everything is going up. However, spending on prescription drugs is rising and is projected to continue to rise faster than overall health spending. That means a significant amount of your budget could be spent on medicines.

How do you help combat that? It goes back to understanding your coverage:

  • If a plan has tiers, ask the physician or pharmacist for a generic to get to the lowest cost tier
  • Use pharmacies that are in your preferred network
  • You may be able to save money if your plan offers a mail-order pharmacy
  • Ask for a 90-day supply if allowed by the prescription
  1. Use urgent care when possible instead of the emergency room
    Urgent care clinics are equipped to handle immediate but non-life threatening situations, including a variety of common illnesses and injuriesfrom sprains and minor broken bones (like a finger) to minor infections, rashes, sore throats and sinus infections. Plus, urgent care costs significantly less than a visit to the emergency room. Many urgent care centers accept all patients, from those using private insurance to Medicare and Medicaid. Most of these insurance options also feature lower patient co-pays for urgent care service than treatment in the emergency room.

Use these tips to help you save on health care costs. It’s also a good time to consider costs you might underestimate. Your financial professional can develop a strategy to help you meet your budgeting needs and retirement lifestyle goals.

This information is brought to you by Athene — where unconventional thinking brings innovative annuity solutions that can help make your retirement dreams a reality.