Managing your health as you grow older can become expensive, especially if you aren’t prepared for the realities of dealing with the medical system. Research shows that a three-day hospital visit can cost an uninsured patient $30,000, which is a number that may shock you. Here are five financial facts you should know about healthcare as you grow older if you’d like to save money while taking care of your health.
Don’t Plan to Rely On Just Medicare
Many people grow old without a plan for medical insurance, thinking Medicare will cover their needs once they are over 65 years old. However, as of 2017, only 17.2% of the population was covered by this program. Even if you are covered by Medicare, you may want to supplement this with additional health insurance to ensure every kind of care you need is covered. Supplemental insurance can also help in case of an unexpected accident or hospital stay that comes with a large bill, which might exceed your insurance plan’s maximum annual payout.
Preventative Care Saves Money
You probably already know that you should visit the doctor once a year to keep your health in check, but did you also know that this practice can save you money? Preventative care is typically covered by your health insurance. For example, insured people are often able to see a doctor once a year for free. During this checkup, you can bring up any concerns and ask your primary care doctor for referrals to any specialists you may need to see. This also helps you create a medical record with your doctor, setting up a baseline of data over time so that any anomalies or issues with your health stand out when they appear.
The Demand for Doctors Is Growing
With a large segment of the population reaching retirement age and less qualified doctors in the workforce, the U.S. is facing a lack of physicians, which might make it harder to access medical care. In 2020, the Association of American Medical Colleges published a report on the physician shortage the nation is facing. They found that the demand for physicians is only going to grow until 2033 due to the amount of population growth anticipated, along with the number of people within the population who are getting older. A good way to avoid this issue is to establish a relationship with a doctor now instead of trying to look for one when the market is already short of available professionals.
Shop Around for Better Pricing
Like other services aimed at a large market, there can be a lot of variability in the prices of health-related procedures. Studies show that the East Coast, California, and portions of the Midwest have the highest prices. If you’re paying for a doctor’s visit or healthcare procedure yourself, and you live in a large metro area, it can be worth your while to get prices from several providers. In larger cities, competition can drive lower prices and make it possible for you to save money.
Don’t Forget Dental, Vision, and Other Care Needs
While the largest segment of spending on healthcare goes to hospitals, a quarter of all spending goes on what is called professional services. This category includes dental, vision, and other specialized forms of care performed outside the hospital. As you plan for your future medical care, don’t forget to account for these important items that may not be covered by an insurer.
With proper planning and some foresight, there is a good chance you’ll be able to navigate the healthcare system as you get older. Utilize these five tips for a healthy future as you age.