Medicare is a federal health insurance program for Americans age 65 or older and some younger people with disabilities. It covers hospital stays, doctor visits, prescription drugs, and other medical services.
Medicare has become a major source of income for seniors who receive benefits from both Social Security and Medicare. In 2017, nearly 47 million people received Medicare coverage. The average annual benefit was $16,890.
There are several ways to maximize Medicare coverage and benefits. Read on to learn how.
1. Get the Most Out of Your Medicare Supplement Plan
If you have Medicare Part B (medicine), you may be eligible for a Medicare supplement plan as well. These plans can help cover out-of-pocket costs like co-pays and deductibles that aren’t covered by your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits.
You can choose an HMO or PPO option, which will determine what doctors and hospitals are in-network. You also can get more information about Medicare supplements here.
2. Use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to Save Money
Health savings accounts are tax-advantaged investment vehicles that let you save money for future medical expenses. They allow you to make contributions up to $3,400 per year ($4,800 if you’re 50 or over).
Contributions grow tax-free until they’re used for qualified medical expenses. Then withdrawals are taxed at a lower rate than regular earnings.
To qualify for HSAs, you must be enrolled in a high deductible health plan (HDHP) through your employer. If you don’t work for an employer, you can still open an account with certain types of IRAs.
3. Take Advantage of Free Preventive Care Services
Many preventive care services such as flu shots, colonoscopies, mammograms, and dental checkups are completely free under Medicare.
These services are part of Medicare Extra, a new premium support program available starting this fall. This means that you won’t pay any monthly premiums for these services. Instead, you’ll only need to pay a modest amount each time you use them.
This program is designed to encourage beneficiaries to take advantage of preventative care services. However, it doesn’t apply to all preventive care. For example, it does not include vision exams, hearing tests, or routine physicals.
4. Choose Low-Cost Hospitals
When you visit the emergency room, you may be able to find a cheaper hospital nearby. Many hospitals offer discounts for patients who stay overnight.
Some hospitals even offer “free nights” where you can stay overnight without paying anything extra. Some hospitals charge less than others, so shop around before going to the ER.
5. Make Sure You Have Enough Medications
Medicare provides coverage for many medications. But there are limits to how much you can spend on prescriptions every month.
The maximum allowed cost is $3,820 annually. That includes generic and brand-name drugs, but not specialty items such as insulin.
6. Don’t Forget About Dental Benefits
Dentists are required to accept Medicare patients. So if you have dental problems, you should see a dentist who accepts Medicare.
7. Know When to Call 911
911 isn’t always necessary when you have a medical problem. But if you think you might need emergency medical attention, call first.
Emergency rooms often have longer wait times than urgent care centers. And waiting too long could mean missing important appointments.
8. Get Help From Your Doctor
Your doctor can provide valuable advice about managing your medical conditions. He or she can also give you tips about staying healthy.
9. Ask Questions
If you have questions about Medicare, ask your doctor or nurse. Or contact Medicare directly.
10. Be Prepared
Make sure you know your rights and responsibilities under Medicare. Also, keep copies of your medical records.
11. Stay Healthy
Take good care of yourself. Eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and avoid stress. These things will help you live happier and healthier.
12. Use Resources
You can access information about Medicare by visiting www.medicare.gov. You can also search Medicare’s website for answers to common questions.
Medicare is an important part of most senior citizens’ financial picture. By taking steps to protect their benefits, they can enjoy more money in retirement.
Learn more about other ways to maximize your benefits and coverage from your health insurance plans by talking to one of our health insurance consultants at Healthbridge Insurance Solutions. Call us today!