How Seniors Can Avoid Medical Debt

: Reese Baker & Associates

  Filed under: medical debt

The opening of health plan enrollment plan under the Affordable Care Act has many Americans over the age of 65 thinking of and planning for their medical expenses and procedures for 2018. For many seniors, the process of picking medical coverage is especially complex as Medicare doesn’t cover everything, which can in turn cause excessive medical debt if you choose the wrong plan or one that offers inadequate coverage. Seniors can avoid medical debt in many situations, however, with a little prior planning.

Know Your Medicare Costs

Individuals are eligible for Medicare three months before their 65th birthday, and enrollment continues for six months. It’s important to sign up within this period to avoid a late enrollment penalty. While the General Enrollment Period for Medicare is between January and March, if you are unable to sign up between this period you may have to wait until July to begin receiving coverage. Knowing the best time to enroll is crucial to avoiding medical debt incurred during that time. Furthermore, there are two types of Medicare: Medicare and the Medicare Advantage plan. By studying them both and comparing to your situation you can avoid out-of-pocket costs or avoid a higher premium, depending on your situation. Something you should also pay attention to if you have many prescriptions, is the Part D for prescription coverage.

Check Your Doctor and Hospital Bills

It’s no secret that medical bills often have errors (as many as half!), and Medicare bills are no different. Always analyze your medical bills for accuracy and make sure to ask the hospital or doctor’s office billing department to send you an itemized bill so that you can see each individual charge. It’s not uncommon to be double charged for a procedure or to be incorrectly charged for medical services.

Have a Long-Term Care Plan

Ensure that you have all your health directives in one place in the event that you aren’t able to manage your own healthcare. This paperwork should include things such as your medical providers, medical history, medication lists, and legal documents involving your medical directives. It’s also important to know that Medicare may not cover long-term care, so to help manage this it’s important to know your options surrounding long-term care insurance. This type of insurance can be quite expensive so be sure to compare this with short-term-care coverage.

There are many options for seniors looking to mitigate or avoid medical debt. If you are finding it hard to fit your health care costs into your budget, there are programs through your state and federal government that you can take advantage of to reduce your health care costs. If you have already taken on more medical debt than you can possibly pay, contact a bankruptcy attorney well versed in debt relief to take a look at the benefits that filing bankruptcy may afford, including discharging your unsecured medical debt.