For many people, turning 65 is a time of peace and relaxation to enjoy retirement. However, often it is the start of complex changes as insurance switches to Medicare, which doesn’t always cover all medical expenses. This can cause thousands of dollars in unplanned medical bills or bills that are not covered.
Understanding Medicare, your health plan changes, and how to avoid medical debt are critical moves to making the transition to 65 and the subsequent years smoothly. These tips can be a huge help to get you on your way and help avoid future pitfalls you may not be expecting.
If you are reading this before the age of 65, start saving now! Studies have shown that a couple needs upwards of a quarter of a million dollars to cover the average estimated healthcare cost throughout the rest of their retirement—even if they are a relatively healthy couple.
Make sure to sign up at the right time, so you do not miss the enrollment period. Usually, this is three months before your 65th birthday and continues for three months after. Missing the correct enrollment time can result in penalties.
If an illness, injury, hospitalization, or serious accident occurs, make sure your health information is all in one place so you can get the correct care. A list of medical providers, medications, medical history, your will and any medical directives can be handy to have.
Review all bills
Look carefully at the bills you receive from Medicare for any errors or overcharges. If the bill only shows the total due, then be sure to ask for an itemized list. Keep in mind that multiple bills may be coming from various providers.
Don’t use credit cards
Asking for a payment plan that works for your budget can be better in the long run to avoid medical debts. Racking up expenses on a credit card is not ideal, and there are solutions available for limited incomes, like Medicare Savings Programs or prescription expense savings programs.
Despite your best efforts, medical debts can still accrue and may lead to facing bankruptcy because of them. You can always talk to an attorney knowledgeable about bankruptcy from medical debts and learn how you can protect yourself and your future.