If you are a member of the Baby Boomer generation, you have likely noticed that many of your peers have either retired or are making plans (read: counting down the days!) for retirement. In fact, some 10,000 of those Americans who were born between 1946 and 1964 retire each and every day. Unfortunately, a large percentage of those brand-new retirees do not have adequate funds saved for their golden years. Especially concerning to them — and to their financial managers — are the high costs of health care, and how they will manage those costs just as their demand for health care is beginning to increase. Financial advisor James McEnerney, who specializes in retirement planning, wants to pass on some money-saving health care tips to help Boomers keep more of their hard-earned cash in their retirement accounts.
1. Make Friends with the Pharmacist
Would it surprise you to learn that paying out-of-pocket for prescription medication might be cheaper than using your insurance? Prepare to be surprised, says James McEnerney. Ask the pharmacist what the out-of-pocket cost is, compared to your copay. Medication discount cards, like GoodRX, can also lower the payment you make at the pharmacy counter.
2. Other Ways to Save on Scripts
It pays to comparison shop — and that’s as true for pharmaceutical drugs as it is for snow boots, car insurance, or prime rib. Call around to see which pharmacies in your area have the lowest prices on the meds you take regularly. Some prescriptions are free at supermarket chains. Just don’t go crazy buying snacks and treats with the money you’ve saved!
3. Check Out Programs That May Help
If you have Medicare, you may also be eligible for a program called Extra Help, which kicks in toward the cost of your medication. You may even qualify to get your pills for free, thanks to the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. James McEnerney advises that you ask your physician about similar initiatives.
4. Get Your Fitness for Free
Silver Sneakers is another program that will slash your health care costs by keeping you fit. It’s for adults aged 65 and over, and it provides a free gym membership. That could translate to a savings of $7,000 annually — a pretty big chunk of change!
5. Get Your Sweat On(line)
Not the gym type? It’s easier than ever to exercise at home, and to choose fro a huge variety of workouts, thanks to the Internet. Spend some time browsing free workout videos on YouTube and subscribe to any channels you find promising.
Want more continuity from workout to workout? Don’t feel like wading through dozens of amateur-hour YouTube vids to find an instructor you like whose videos are of decent quality? Online fitness classes offer unlimited access and professional-caliber instruction for $15 per month, on average. You don’t need a financial guru like James McEnerney to tell you that’s a bargain compared to a local in-person instruction.
6. Be a Frugal Four-Eyes
Do you wear glasses? Shop for them online to save big bucks. All you need is your prescription and pupillary distance, which you can have your spouse or friend measure. Zenni Optical has rock-bottom prices, good quality, and a huge selection of hip, trendy, and fun spectacles. Warby Parker’s prices are a little higher, but they send you frames to try on at home before committing.
7. Bid Hasta La Vista to High Medical Bills
American hospitals and health care centers are notorious for charging exorbitant amounts for every little line item on a hospital bill — $1400 for a band-aid, $15 for a single Tylenol and an extra $10 for the plastic cup it’s served in — and for being incredibly difficult to reason with. If you have an outrageous medical bill from a recent ER visit or inpatient stay, James McEnerney says it might make sense to hire a medical bill negotiator. They will first go over your itemized bill with a fine-tooth comb to find mistakes and discrepancies. Then they’ll fight insurance denials and work to negotiate discounts.