Over the years I've found a couple of very cool ways to save money, and I'd like to share them with you.
The first is a great free service to help you locate supplemental medical insurance coverage for seniors - also sometimes called "Medigap" coverage. Simply put, supplemental insurances for seniors pay the difference between what Medicare pays for medical care, and what better quality care actually costs. This may save seniors on their out of pocket costs, and give them access to providers and services they otherwise couldn't afford.
The service is called Senior Educators, and I learned about it in the course of helping my elderly aunt with her finances and medical needs.
Senior Educators maintains an overview of supplemental insurance plans all around the country. You provide them your zip code, and they help you find plans in your state that meet your needs. You make the eventual choice, but they provide the information you need to make good comparisons of the available plans. I was able to find my aunt incredibly cheap plans with great service for both her medical and dental needs. We're very pleased.
When making your own comparisons, you'll of course consider the price of the monthly premium ; but you also may want to compare options, copays and coverage limits for :
- Doctor visits
- Prescription drugs
- Eyeglasses and eye exams
- Dental exams and procedures
- A hospital stay
- A skilled nursing facility stay
- Skilled nursing care at home
- Care at home by a home health aide
- Living in a nursing home
The Senior Educators website is http://www.senioreducators.com , and their toll free number is 1 (800) 505 8575. It's a great way to prepare to make an informed choice, whether you're investigating for your parents or some other senior - or for yourself.
Another different, but also great way to save money in the realm of health care, is by using a Flexible Savings Account, if your employer offers one.
You fund your FSA with your own pre-tax dollars, deducted from your paycheck each pay period. You save money because you don't pay pay federal, social security or state taxes on what you put aside. Your FSA can be used to pay for :
- Your medical, prescription drug, dental or vision insurance copays
- Your out of pocket costs for any of these kinds of care, beyond what the insurance pays
- In some cases, holistic care and treatments. The FSA program can provide detailed information on this
- Dependent care expenses, including copays and other out of pocket costs for your spouse and children - even such things as licensed daycare. Again, consult your FSA program for rules and details.
To fund your FSA, you first estimate your out of pocket expenses for medical, prescription drug, dental and vision care, daycare etc, for the coming year. This total will be deducted from your paycheck in equal increments during the year. Caveat : it's important to estimate your out of pocket costs for the year accurately - because FSA's have a "use it or lose it " feature. If you don't spend everything you put aside, you don't get it back !
Beyond this important caution, FSA's are excellent, and we've saved thousands of dollars this way over the years. One particularly beautiful feature : once you've started your payroll deductions for the year, you can use your FSA at any time. For instance, if you have a have a big medical or dental expense at the very beginning of the year, you have access to the whole yearly FSA amount immediately.
Another great feature is that in some cases, employers match a portion of your contribution.
This is an overview, based on my own experience with FSA's - it's meant only to introduce the concept. For the actual rules and allowances of your employer's FSA, you'll need to consult that program. But an FSA can be a great thing, and very much worth your while !