When people in the United States qualify for Medicare on reaching the age of 65, they often notice a substantial decline in medical costs paid out-of-pocket.
A new study recently discovered that reducing the eligibility age would save even more for people. The study’s lead author, an assistant professor of cardiac surgery at the University of Michigan’s Medical School, found that these savings would be most profoundly felt by those who most need financial protection.
The study examined out-of-pocket health care costs including co-pays and deductibles for individuals in their late 50s to early 70s. The average out-of-pocket cost declined 27% between the ages of 64 to 66 even though income remained the same. Meanwhile, average health costs paid by individuals and insurance increased 5%. Meanwhile, the percent of older individuals lacking health insurance decreased from 5% to almost 0% from ages 64 to 66. The study made note of older individuals whose health care costs consumed 40% of their income after food and housing. This category included 9% of uninsured 64-year-olds but dropped by 35% for 66 year olds. Not having medicare benefits likely contributed to the fact that approximately 6% of 66-years-old spent more than 40% of their disposable income on health care costs.
The financial stress of paying for health care, which is sometimes called “financial toxicity”, is high for individuals in their 60s. With the increase in high-deductible commercial health insurance plans, just having health insurance is not sufficient to protect individuals from high healthcare costs. Consequently, high medical costs are not just financially challenging, they can also negatively impact a person’s health.
How to Reduce Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Costs
You can follow several helpful steps to reduce the amount of out-of-pocket healthcare costs that you end up paying. A few of the helpful steps that you should adhere to include:
- Research health insurance costs. Many people who purchase health insurance through the exchange end up spending a large portion of premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs. For situations where you are not certain how much something costs, it’s easy and a common occurrence to end up overpaying for it.
- Discuss financial concerns with your medical provider. Consumers sometimes can reduce the medical costs that they end up paying by simply asking their medical provider. Many people are not aware that it is possible to negotiate a lower price for healthcare services. If you are not sure whether you can afford treatment costs, you should speak with your medical provider about how you will be charged and whether any potential accommodation exists.
- Do Not Give In until a Claim Is Resolved. You should get in the practice of not giving up until an issue is resolved. Some people follow the habit of requesting an itemized list following any stay at a medical facility as well as following up on any unexpected charges.
Contact a Knowledgeable Elder Law Attorney
Elder law is full of obstacles and many of them are critical ones that can substantially disrupt the quality of a person’s life. If you or a loved one needs the assistance of a lawyer experienced with elder law, do not hesitate to contact Ettinger Law Firm today.