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Boost Your Budget with Medicare Savings

According to a recent survey conducted by The Senior Citizens League, two-thirds of retirees spend at least $375 per month on healthcare costs. This represents 24% of the average monthly Social Security benefit! And for more than 30% of retirees, the cost of healthcare is much higher, coming in at over $1,000 per month. Even worse, healthcare costs are expected to continue to increase as our population continues to age. (1)

Healthcare costs can be an immense burden for people living on a fixed income. Many seniors face tough choices between what to pay for and what to do without. Fortunately, there are ways to budget for and sometimes even lower healthcare costs.

For those with limited incomes and assets, there are federal assistance programs that can help with healthcare costs. From full coverage Medicaid to reduced premiums and copays for prescription drugs, these programs offer much needed assistance to those who need it most.

Medicare and You: Ways to Save Money (LIS, MSP, Medicaid)

Many older adults struggle to pay for healthcare costs but don’t qualify for assistance programs. Fortunately, there are other money-saving options as well.

  1. Compare your Part D or Medicare Advantage Plan Annually: During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, between October 15th and December 7th each year, Medicare beneficiaries get the chance to review and change their Part D or Medicare Advantage Plan coverage. Plans change their premiums and copay amounts each year and your prescription and healthcare needs change over time as well. A plan review usually takes less than 30 minutes and often results in significant savings.

  2. Consider a High Deductible or SELECT Medigap plan: If you have a Medigap (or Medicare Supplement), you may have a high monthly premium. For some people, changing to a High Deductible F or G plan or a F or G SELECT plan could offer a savings. With a High Deductible plan, you have traditional Medicare coverage until you reach the plan deductible ($2,370 in 2021). After that, the plan pays any costs left over after Medicare pays their portion. These plans often offer significantly lower monthly premiums. Select plans offer the same benefits as traditional plans but require non-emergency treatment to be provided from a specified network of doctors or hospitals. The savings on these plans is usually around $200 per year.

  3. Shop around for lower costs: Sometimes prescription drugs, medical equipment and even surgical procedures cost you less by using a different provider. When it comes to your healthcare, shopping around can save you big. You might even consider a mail order pharmacy for your prescriptions. Mail order can often offer a significant savings over a retail pharmacy.

  4. Utilize preventive health benefits: Medicare offers a wide variety of preventive health benefits, many of which have no out of pocket costs. Preventive care can lower your future healthcare costs since most issues can be detected earlier while they are less expensive to treat. Routine preventive care can also keep you healthier longer.

  5. Use Urgent Care rather than the Emergency Room: If your medical need isn’t life threatening but you need care right away, consider an Urgent Care facility. These facilities over quality care for minor injuries or illnesses and cost a fraction of an Emergency Room visit.

One reason that healthcare costs are so high is the prevalence of healthcare fraud, waste and abuse. Fraud occurs when a beneficiary, provider or insurance company knowingly acts in a deceitful manner in order to profit. Waste is billing for or receiving unnecessary services, misusing claim codes or charging excessively for services or supplies. Abuse is incorrect billing that is not done intentionally. It is estimated that Medicare loses $60 billion annually to fraud, waste and abuse. We can all help reduce the cost of Medicare fraud by protecting Medicare numbers, reviewing Medicare Summary Notices or Explanation of Benefits and reporting an issues to the provider, insurance company or to the Senior Medicare Patrol.

Prevent Healthcare fraud, SMP video

April 12-16, 2021 is Boost Your Budget™ Week. Take a few moments this week to get a free, confidential checkup from the Benefits Enrollment Center at AAA-Five County. By answering a few questions, we can generate a list of programs that could help you. Also during this week, we will have a variety of virtual and in-person outreach events to help guide you towards the many possible ways you can boost your budget, including a webinar featuring a variety of professionals who will come together to tackle the topic of debt reduction, stories from Medicare beneficiaries and Veterans about how their own confidential checkup has benefited them, ideas for what to do if you don’t qualify for benefits, and much more!

You’ve worked hard. You’ve earned this. Join us for Boost Your Budget™ Week!

For a full list of events, check out our Facebook Page on Sunday, April 11, 2021:

You can also learn more by contacting the Benefits Enrollment Center via email:

Amy Brinkerhoff has worked for the Five County Association of Governments for almost ten years. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 2008 with a degree in Sociology. Amy has been a SHIP counselor since her first week at Five County and now serves as Coordinator for the SHIP and SMP programs, where she offers one-on-one Medicare Counseling and teaches classes on Medicare topics and Fraud prevention.

(1)The Senior Citizens League. Two-Thirds of Older Households Spending More Than 24 Percent of Their Social Security Benefits on Healthcare. November 10, 2020

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