Health

How To Reduce Senior Medical Debt in America

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Healthcare is essential to anyone’s life, but as you age, it becomes an even more significant component. Unfortunately for many seniors, this also means that medical debt becomes a growing financial burden.

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Outstanding medical debt is difficult to overcome for many reasons, including rising costs, high repayment plan options, and low incomes. These struggles can compound even further for seniors who have left the workforce due to retirement or medical conditions.

Fortunately, while healthcare costs continue to be an issue for seniors, there are ways to help protect your finances. Many seniors have a fixed income and must maintain healthcare benefits while managing a budget.

Here at MedicareFAQ, we help seniors find coverage that meets their healthcare needs and keeps their budget in mind. Learn more about senior medical debt, how it affects you, and how Medicare benefits can help you keep healthcare costs low.

What Is the Average Medical Debt for Seniors?

With so many factors contributing to our financial health, it’s difficult to say what the average medical debt for seniors totals. This includes things like your level of income, healthcare needs, and coverage, such as Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).

However, studies have shown that not only are medical expenses one of the largest financial hurdles for seniors in their final five years, but out-of-pocket costs reach higher than $38,000.

This average is bad enough to have 25% of seniors approaching bankruptcy at the time of their death. When we dig deeper, many segments within this demographic are disproportionately facing an even worse financial situation, including:

  • Single seniors (11.7%)
  • Non-white seniors (13.9%)
  • Households with an income of ~$25,000 (21% to 22.2%)
  • Those without health insurance (26.1%)

These costs can be lowered if not eliminated thanks to medical bill debt forgiveness, but you must qualify, and such eligibility varies from state to state. Thus, it’s always best to prepare for potential medical debt by enrolling in coverage that provides good benefits.

For many seniors, Medicare can help reduce the cost of their healthcare by providing benefits that cover their procedures. But there are still leftover costs for those using Medicare Part A and Part B alone that everyone should be aware of.

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Thankfully additional options persist. Seniors can also enroll in either a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) or Medicare Advantage plan. Both help cover medical costs but do so in different ways, and depending on your healthcare needs, they can help you lower your expenses and maintain your budget.

What Happens to Seniors if You Don’t Pay Medical Bills in America?

According to a study, only 69% of seniors believe they have enough resources to cover medical expenses and medical debt for the upcoming year. Additionally, these findings show as many as 11% don’t have these resources, with another 20% unsure whether or not they will be able to.

These statistics show that a sizable portion of seniors are either at potential risk or at risk of succumbing to medical debt. But what happens if you are unable to pay your medical bills?

Sadly, it can become a bit of a snowball effect in which your financial situation will only worsen. Many adverse effects are in play, including wage garnishment, debt collection harassment, legal ramifications, lessened borrowing power, and interest and late fees on the debt you already own. However, medical debt will never accrue interest.

Furthermore, a disturbing trend in senior medical debt revolves around the quality of life. Many seniors are trading their spending in various other areas to help afford medical costs, including putting off repairs, skipping meals, and spending less on leisure.

Worst still is that seniors often skip out on healthcare due to medical debt. This also ties in with previously mentioned effects that can negatively affect their health, such as skipping meals. These methods only further exacerbate a growing problem and harm seniors’ health.

Factors like this are prime examples of the benefits of maintaining proper coverage for the healthcare needs of each individual. Programs and benefits such as Original Medicare, Medigap, and Medicare Advantage can help maintain low costs, but their value can vary from person to person.

Because each senior has unique healthcare needs and budget, how they protect themselves is just as important as enrolling in the first place. By speaking with a licensed Medicare agent, seniors can receive personalized coverage that helps save them money and reduce their risk of medical debt.

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Does Medical Debt Affect Credit Scores for Seniors?

While it may depend on which credit score is being measured, a new trend is emerging in which medical debt in the U.S. isn’t being used to affect credit scores. But again, this designation may vary from senior to senior.

Regardless, adding medical debt to your financial situation can still make it challenging to take out loans, and even if you can, you may face higher interest rates as a result.

One important thing to note about credit scores and your healthcare is that getting a quote on healthcare coverage won’t affect your credit score. Furthermore, if you are someone with lower credit, this metric does not affect your premiums for Medicare and Medicare supplemental coverage.

How To Lower Your Risk of Medical Debt With Medicare

While mounting medical debt can feel overwhelming, seniors have options available. Of course, the best course of action for any financial decision is to speak with your licensed financial advisor, but here are some common sense areas that can help you lower your debts:

  • Speaking with your healthcare provider about your financial citation and payment options.
  • State programs for lower income individuals with healthcare debts.
  • Avoid using credit cards to pay off your debts when the interest rate is unfavorable to your financial position.
  • Review your billing and check for errors.
  • Prevent medical debt by having the right coverage in place.

Everyone has different budgets and healthcare needs, which is why everyone deserves personalized benefits according to these factors. Medicare benefits can help you cover expensive healthcare costs, avoid sinking into senior medical debt, and receive the care you deserve.

At MedicareFAQ, we provide free, no-obligation plan comparisons to comprehensively evaluate your healthcare benefit options. From original Medicare to supplemental plans such as Medigap or Medicare Advantage, and even Medicare Part D drug plans, we help you by providing benefits that fit your needs.

Fill out our rate comparison form or contact our agents at the number above for coverage that help you avoid medical debt without cutting benefits.

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