6 Ways Retirees Can Cut Their Health Care Costs

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Patient with doctor
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Health care bills can put a major crack in your nest egg during retirement.

Some experts suggest that these costs can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars during your golden years although others have questioned those numbers.

Still, no matter your view, medical expenses almost certainly take some type of bite out of your budget if you are retired. So, finding ways to contain these costs is always a worthwhile pursuit.

Here are some important ways retirees can lower health care bills, make costs less volatile, or prevent or reduce future health care problems.

1. Buy a Medigap plan

Senior woman getting health care at the doctor's office.
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Contrary to what you might think, a traditional Medicare plan will not cover all your medical expenses during retirement. This can be a shock to some seniors.

Savvy retirees who want to avoid being on the hook for too many health care expenses might consider purchasing a Medigap plan as a supplement to their traditional Medicare policy. Medigap plans can help cover many things Medicare does not.

Many seniors find that the cost they pay upfront for Medigap is worth it because of the savings they get through this extra coverage.

Note: Medigap plans are not available to those with Medicare Advantage plans, which typically cover more than original Medicare in the first place. However, Medicare Advantage plans may have other drawbacks.

2. Take care of your health

Senior Woman Exercise
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We have all heard this advice before: Exercise and eat right, and you will dramatically increase your odds of avoiding illness, chronic conditions and the need to take medications.

And yet, millions of us do not heed such wise counsel. Instead, we sit on couches and munch on chips while watching “Wheel of Fortune.”

If you are ready to boost your health by getting active, check out:

3. Get routine tests and screenings

Senior patient with doctor
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Nobody likes going to the doctor. But doing so helps us catch diseases and other problems earlier on, which can lead to both better outcomes and lower treatment costs.

Medicare covers wellness visits and many types of screenings so there is really no excuse not to get checked. Find out more about the “14 Things That Are Free With Medicare.”

4. Get recommended immunizations

Flu shot
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Vaccines can have side effects, and some of them are significant. But such adverse reactions are rare. By and large, getting vaccinated is a safe and effective way to reduce disease.

For example, getting your flu shot can spare you from more than just a potential case of influenza: It can also prevent you from ending up in the hospital and having to pay the associated medical costs.

In addition, some immunizations have been found to lower your chances of developing unrelated medical problems. Learn more about these extra perks of vaccination in the following stories:

5. Consider medical tourism

Senior traveler looking out a train window
l i g h t p o e t / Shutterstock.com

Retirees who are willing to travel outside the United States for specific medical procedures can save a boatload on medical costs. And you might not have to travel very far.

You can save up to 60% off some major procedures if you travel to Mexico, for example.

For more about this way to save, read “Medical Tourism 101: Tips for Saving on Medical Care Overseas.”

6. Bunch procedures when possible for tax savings

Senior health care patient
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If you rack up enough health care costs during a single year, you might qualify for a tax break.

You can deduct medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, according to the IRS.

Obviously, it does not make sense to wait if you need medical or dental care right away. But if you have a few expensive procedures that are not urgent, bunching together these medical and dental expenses in a single year can help you cut the cost of such care.

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