Thursday, June 27, 2019

Managing Medical Expenses: A Guide for Seniors

Reaching your golden years with a healthy retirement nest egg is no easy feat. Spending that money wisely once your retirement begins isn’t either. Americans fall behind the rest of the world when it comes to saving for retirement and spending those funds wisely, experts say. Also, both tasks can be made exponentially harder by medical bills.

If you’ve reached your golden years only to face a serious illness and all of the steep medical costs associated with it, you may be incredibly frustrated. This is supposed to be a time for you to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors, not a time for worrying about money and your family’s future. 

Life doesn’t play by our rules, but there are still things that you can do to keep afloat financially and maximize your finances during your golden years.

Make sure you’re getting the most out of Medicare

Do you have Medicare? If you’re 65 or older and no longer on a private insurance plan, then you probably already signed up for some type of Medicare plan. Medicare can be tricky, though, and especially if you’re trying to make sure that you’re saving every cent possible.

It’s a good idea to turn to online resources to help you compare and sign up for plans during the Medicare OEP (open enrollment period). Consider turning to advisors to help you weigh your options, and remember to consider “gap plans” to cover things that Medicare does not (such as healthcare while you’re outside of the United States). 

Proper planning on the health insurance front can make a world of difference for you, your health, and your finances.

Look for ways to turn assets into cash

You’ve worked hard all of your life to save up for retirement, but your retirement fund isn’t the only place where your wealth resides. Many seniors also have extremely valuable assets, including everything from real estate and insurance policies to collectibles and antiques.

When you’re feeling as if you’ve been backed into a financial corner, take another look at these kinds of assets. You may be able to sell some off for that cash that you need in order to cover those medical bills.

You can even sell life insurance policies, experts say. These sorts of arrangements are called “viatical settlements,” and they are powerful ways to get cash quickly. The idea is this: If you’ve been paying into a life insurance policy, your beneficiaries are destined to receive a settlement when you pass away. 

However, that money may be worth more to you, your family, and your eventual estate if you can access it now and use it to pay down bills and debts that might otherwise snowball. That’s why, sometimes, it makes sense to sell off your future settlement for cash now.

In some cases, you can even turn assets into cash without selling them outright and immediately. Take a reverse mortgage, for instance: That’s an arrangement under which you sell your home bit by bit, accepting monthly payments from your lender (the opposite of sending money to your lender to pay down your old traditional mortgage). 

You’ll get to enjoy your home for the rest of your life, and then your heirs can choose how to pay off the loan (they could sell the house or, if they choose, pay in cash and keep the property).

Get help when you need it

Not everyone has access to every method for saving money on healthcare, and this sort of thing can quickly become confusing no matter what your age or familiarity with the system. That’s why it pays to turn to a professional when you need one. 

You could get financial advice from a financial advisor or, if necessary, chat with an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy. While hardly an appealing option, bankruptcy could help you make the best of a bad situation and end the stressful cycle of debt.

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