As the U.S. population ages, healthcare costs continue to skyrocket. But while healthcare costs will continue to rise, there are certain measures you can take to reduce what you spend in urgent situations.
Skip the Drive and Get Care Delivered
When seniors contact 911 for a non-life-threatening health emergency, they’re often transported to their local ER for treatment, which adds even more cost. But is this really the most appropriate and cost-effective answer? For those who no longer drive, arranging transportation to a local ER can be difficult or expensive. Once they arrive, acute health problems that are not truly urgent can be triaged to the end of the line, leading to a long wait time before ever seeing a medical practitioner.
Today, there’s a better way. Some seniors may remember the days when house calls were a common occurrence for those needing urgent care. With DispatchHealth, those days are back. After you contact them, they’ll send a team of qualified medical professionals to your home or senior care facility within a few hours. There, they can evaluate your symptoms, recommend a treatment and answer any questions you may have. And for those concerned that the cost of such service might be prohibitive, a visit from DispatchHealth typically costs about 85 percent less than a trip to the ER, and they accept Medicare too.
In past generations, it was not uncommon for seniors to have private health insurance through pension plans. While some still do today, the majority of retirees don’t have private healthcare options. And those seniors still working may find themselves ineligible for their company’s insurance plan. More and more seniors are relying on Medicare to cover their medical needs.
But be sure to understand what your Medicare does and does not cover, or you could find yourself with a huge stack of bills that you weren’t expecting. This is because Medicare only covers medical and hospital costs, not dental, vision, hearing, and prescriptions. Fortunately, Medicare Advantage plans have been created to fill the gaps in Medicare coverage. Spend some time researching the different Medicare Advantage plans available to you, and choose one that offers you the best balance between premiums and coverage for your situation.
Keep It In Network
The scenario is all too common. You go to a local urgent care center and ask if your insurance is accepted. They assure you that yes, they accept your plan, and you are treated and go home. Weeks later you get a bill in the mail. What happened? While the provider may accept your insurance plan, they may still not be “in network” for you. This means your insurance will pay a portion of your bill, but it’s typically far less than they would pay for an in network medical visit. And you’re on the hook for the rest.
So how do you avoid this headache? Be sure to ask if a provider and facility is in network, rather than just whether they accept your plan. Or better yet, call your insurance plan’s helpline and ask which providers in your area are in network. Typically they can provide you with a list of local doctors who will treat you for a fraction of the out-of-pocket costs.