Managing Health-Care Costs with a Medicare Supplement Plan
This article was updated on: 09/16/2018
Managing health-care costs can be a huge source of stress for many Medicare beneficiaries. Learn how a Medicare Supplement plan may help with out-of-pocket costs so you can get the care you need while keeping medical expenses in check.
Why managing health-care costs matters
If you have a condition that needs ongoing treatment, you may have seen firsthand how your medical costs can quickly skyrocket. For example, say you’re diagnosed with cancer and need chemotherapy three times a week. If you pay a $20 copayment for each visit, that’s $60 per week, and $3,120 over the course of a year. That doesn’t even factor in other services you may need (such as doctor visits or lab tests) or care for health issues unrelated to your cancer.
Costs for chronic conditions, like diabetes, can be overwhelming. According to The New York Times, people with diabetes spend an average of $6,000 a year to treat their condition. That same article also cites this startling statistic from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): diabetes patients spend, on average, twice as much for medical expenses as those without the condition – and these costs don’t count costs for common related complications like eye or foot issues, heart conditions, or liver damage.
One reason why costs can quickly get out of control is because many chronic diseases often come with higher comorbidity rates, meaning you’re more likely to have other health conditions at the same time. For example, according to the CDC, people with arthritis often have conditions like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. In terms of managing health-care costs, this means even more doctor visits, tests, and medications to treat each of your health conditions.
Managing your health-care costs
Managing health-care costs in a proactive way requires planning and a little foresight. You may not be able to predict where your health will be in five or ten years, but there are actions you might want to take even now to keep your medical expenses under control:
- Prevention is key. The best way to keep your health-care costs down is to stay healthy as long as possible. Medicare covers a wide range of preventive services (many completely free), including annual “Wellness” visits, screenings, and more.
- Find out if you’re eligible for financial assistance. If you have limited income, Medicaid and Extra Help can assist with managing health-care costs like Medicare premiums, copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Contact your state Medicaid program to find out if you qualify.
- Don’t wait until you’re sick to get coverage. You might think you’re saving money to go without coverage, but it may cost more in the long run. Many health plans cover preventive benefits like screenings and annual check-ups that catch issues before they get bigger (and more expensive to treat).
Managing health-care costs with Medicare Supplement coverage
If you have Medicare, you know that it covers a wide range of hospital and medical costs – but it doesn’t cover everything. You’re still responsible for cost sharing, as well certain services that Original Medicare doesn’t pay for, like the first three pints of blood. In addition, Original Medicare doesn’t have an annual out-of-pocket maximum, meaning there’s no limit to what you could pay if you need unexpected treatment.
The good news is that Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans help “fill the gaps” by covering some of these out-of-pocket costs, including copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and more. Many of the 10 standardized plans cover Part A coinsurance costs for hospital, skilled nursing facility, or hospice care: these are exactly the types of situations where you may be seriously sick or injured, and managing your health-care costs is the last thing you want to be worrying about.
In addition, Medicare Supplement Plans K and L come with an out-of-pocket limit to make managing your health-care costs easier if you need unforeseen medical care. After your covered medical costs reach a certain amount (which changes yearly), your plan will cover remaining costs for the rest of the year.
Would you like to learn more about managing your health-care costs with a Medicare Supplement plan? You can arrange a time to speak over the phone with me or request an email with plan information below. If you’d rather start browsing now, use the Compare Plans button on this page.
This article is only for general information and is not financial or legal advice. Consult your financial or legal advisor instead of relying on this article.