As we age, our medical costs often increase. There’s a good chance you’ll have to eventually pay for long-term care for yourself or a loved one, increasing out-of-pocket costs even more. While Medicare is available to individuals over the age of 65, it still doesn't cover every single cost or expense associated with medical care. That leaves many adults scrambling to pay for unexpected costs. In a country where many people, including those with health insurance, are still unable to afford all of their skyrocketing medical bills, what are the options?
Many Americans tap into their retirement savings, which is generally not recommended by most financial advisors because it could hurt you more in the long run. Some wise people have saved up a nest egg to cover unexpected expenses or health emergencies; however, one in four Americans don’t have enough money saved up to cover a medical emergency.
Luckily, there are other options out there, including supplemental plans that can help cover the costs of additional medical care for yourself or a loved one. Read on to learn how to plan and save for a healthy, happy future.
Planning Ahead (Modifications, Lifestyle, Etc.)
Think you’ll never need long-term care? Not so fast. An estimated 10 million Americans require long-term care. According to Medicare.org, “Long-term care is for anyone of any age who needs help taking care of themselves over an extended period of time due to disability, severe mental illness, disease, injuries, or medical events such as strokes or brain tumors.” That means there’s a chance either you or a loved one might require this type of care.
Since most people inevitably require long-term care at some point in their lives, it’s important to proactively plan for it. First, it helps to understand how to plan for and anticipate long-term care needs. On the planning side of things, you’ll want to start by assessing the likelihood that you or a loved one will require long-term care, whether in the short or long-term. You can do this by thoughtfully answering the following questions:
What lifestyle choices are you making now?
- How can you reduce the risk of injury or onset of illness?
- Are there any home modifications you need to make?
- Are there hereditary illnesses and conditions that could impact you?
Saving Up (Accounts, Insurance, Etc.)
After doing some planning, you’ll be in a good place to start saving up for the anticipated or expected costs associated with long-term care, whether for yourself or a loved one. As you start to budget for these savings, ask yourself the following questions:
How close are you (or your loved one) to retirement?
- What savings funds and programs are currently available that could help you pay for long-term care?
- What insurance programs are available now to help pay for long-term care?
- How do you plan on paying for the costs of long-term care?
- Are other members of the family, such as spouses, siblings, or children, able and willing to contribute to the costs of long-term care?
After doing some research on options that are currently available to help with long-term care and unexpected medical costs, you might look into supplemental health care plans. For instance, you might look into a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Supplement insurance policy to help cover the costs of additional and out-of-pocket medical care for yourself or a loved one, including copays and deductibles. These plans also allow you to try them out and, if you’ve had your plan for less than a year and are unhappy with it, you can switch to the other option.
As US News reports, there’s a good chance that someone in your family will need a nursing home sooner or later. There’s even a chance that you might be that someone. However, even if long-term care is in your future, it doesn’t have to be a grim outlook. By taking the steps now to ask some difficult questions, make some lifestyle adjustments, plan ahead, and save up, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and headache. Saving and planning for nursing homes, health care expenses, and long-term care can be difficult, but it can also be done. It just starts with a willingness to take those first steps.
Reference: This post is by guest writer June Duncan, caregiver and author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers. Books can be purchased at her website, http://riseupforcaregivers.org/.
For more information on medical debt, also see: https://www.thesimpledollar.com/guide-to-combating-medical-debt/.