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In the United States, seniors pay more for health care and medical supplies than any other demographic combined. What’s more, as seniors advance in age, they may struggle to afford medical care due to their decreased earning capacity. A 2017 study conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, ERBI, found that U.S. couples retiring at age 65 needed about $280,000 of their retirement savings to cover future health care costs. The $280,000 only included premiums for Medicare Part B doctor coverage and Medicare Part D drug coverage. It didn’t account for assisted living or long-term care.

While there’s no foolproof way to avoid retirement health care costs, here are some tips you can use to keep your medical expenses low.

1. Seek a second medical opinion.

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After you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic health condition, the ensuing confusion is normal and expected. What’s more, if you need to choose among several recommended treatment options, this can make the diagnosis much harder to deal with. Given that any medical diagnosis, no matter how benign, has the potential to change your life, seeking a second medical opinion can empower you to make an informed decision on your health and subsequent medical treatment.

A second opinion will allow you to gain a better understanding of your condition and the different treatment options available to you. By exploring all the treatment options available to you, you can assess the pros ad cons of each one, while also coming away with a better understanding of the side effects of each proposed course of treatment.

A second opinion may also recommend less invasive procedures that may eliminate the need for surgery. Avoiding surgery, for instance, can save you a lot of hidden out-of-pocket costs that may not be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or your private medical insurance.

Most patients who require frequent doctor visits require both mental health and physical health treatments. Combining both treatments can significantly reduce your medical expenses as your second doctor may be able to offer whole person care.

2. Compare energy providers.

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In the United States, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Community Services maintains the safety and health of families through programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps low-income families and retirees with home energy bill payments.

In New South Wales (NSW) the government also offers several rebates and discounts to help senior citizens pay their electricity bills. The seniors’ energy rebate, for instance, offers energy rebates to retirees if they hold a valid Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. If you or a loved one have energy-reliant medical equipment, the Life Support rebate can help you cover your electricity bill.

There are several renewable energy companies in NSW, so when seeking an electricity NSW provider, consider the terms of payment, contract terms, and if they offer any discounts. To see if you qualify for the NSW government’s energy rebates, visit the state government energy saver website.

3. Find an in-network durable medical equipment supplier.

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Durable medical equipment, DME, is a term used by private insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid to describe reusable medical equipment and devices. Seniors living with a disability or chronic illness require durable medical equipment—wheelchairs, pressure mattresses, hospital beds, and orthotics—more than other demographics. For a piece of medical equipment to qualify as a DME, it must meet a specific medical need, be used at home, be prescribed by a healthcare provider, and have the ability to be used more than once. DMEs can be purchased from hospitals, some pharmacies, and nursing homes.

Paying for medical supplies and DMEs can be quite costly, but most government medical insurance plans like Medicare Part B and private health plans will cover all or part of the expenses associated with these DMEs. To find Medicare-approved DME suppliers in your area, visit the official Medicare website (medicare.gov), where the federal government has provided all relevant information.

4. Sign up for a free prescription discount card.

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Prescription discount cards offer lower medication costs to patients buying their medications in cash. These cards are free to use and are available to patients regardless of whether they’re insured. Discount savings programs work by negotiating discounts on bulk drug purchases with pharmacy owners. As a result of this negotiation, customers can access prescription medication at their local pharmacies at affordable prices.

The Rx savings program provides users with their free discount cards via mail order, text, or email. These cards are not an insurance plan, but a way to lower drug costs.

5. Take care of your physical health.

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Making it a point to stay within your weight group, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet can lessen your risk for health problems. Maintaining an active lifestyle can lower your chances of developing lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Regular tests and ongoing treatments for these conditions can be extremely costly, so to avoid any additional medical expenses, take care of your body.

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