Controlling Your Health Care Costs in Retirement

It’s no secret that health care becomes a bigger concern for most of us as we grow older. More ailments are likely to develop, which means more money spent to visit health professionals and buy medication. Even if you remain healthy through your later years, the costs of preventative care and preparing for potential unexpected health situations are rising.

Health-related expenses will likely be one of the biggest components of your retirement budget. You need to be prepared to pay for comprehensive insurance coverage and potential out-of-pocket costs for care. Here are three strategies to help you manage this critical expense in retirement.

Understand how Medicare works

The good news for Americans age 65 and older is that you qualify for Medicare. That makes increased dependence on health care services more affordable. At age 65, most people automatically qualify for Medicare Part A at no cost, which primarily provides coverage for hospital stays and skilled nursing care. Medicare Part B must be purchased (approximately $109 per month in 2017 for most retirees). Part B covers the costs of visiting a physician, but with some deductibles. Many people purchase additional coverage to use for out-of-pocket expenses, such as a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Supplement policy.

With Medicare, timing is important. Signing up when you first qualify for coverage will keep costs at the lowest level. If you maintain insurance through your employer after turning 65, you can delay Medicare enrollment without risking late penalties.

If you retire prior to age 65, you will need to purchase insurance on the open market to cover health-related expenses until you become eligible for Medicare. Individual coverage tends to get more expensive as you grow older, so work the cost into your retirement budget. Some employers offer retiree health insurance as a benefit. Check with your human resources department to see if this option is available to you.

Allocate sufficient funds for health care costs

As you develop your retirement income strategy, make sure you have money set aside for health expenses that will be your responsibility. By one estimate, the average 66-year-old couple will need to tap more than half of their lifetime pre-tax Social Security benefits to pay for health care expenses throughout retirement. Most people will likely have to rely, in part, on their own savings to help offset some medical expenses.

Along with other retirement savings, you may want to establish a health savings account (HSA) during your working years. HSAs are designed to help build tax-advantaged savings to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses you incur during your working years. However, any leftover funds can be applied to health expenses later in life, including premiums for Medicare and long-term care insurance. Keep in mind that you must be enrolled in a high deductible health plan to open an HSA.

Focus on your own health

One way to potentially keep health care costs under control in retirement is to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Small changes you make today, such as eating right or prioritizing sleep, could reduce the likelihood that medical issues will impact you later in life. Being physically active may also benefit your finances in retirement – according to the American Heart Association, it could potentially help you save $500 a year today on health-related expenses.

The Ultimate Guide To Family Health and Nutrition

There is not much today that is more important to families than their overall health, both physically and mentally. Sure it is nice to have financial security, a comfortable home and some perks along the way, but what good are all of these “extras” if one does not have the good health and stamina to enjoy them? It is easy to take a broad look across the United States these days and see a variety of health levels that families are living, both good and bad. There is truly an obesity epidemic going on right under our very noses in every state of the Union and a large portion of this statistic is children. That certainly brings home the old adage that children model what they see and if they see their parents living an unhealthy lifestyle, they are sure to emulate it. On the other hand, those choosing to watch their diet and eat right, exercise and take good care of their overall health are more than likely going to have children that will do the same.

There are many worries to consider when living in the twenty first century. The number of diseases such as cancer, particularly breast cancer for women and prostate cancer in men seems to be on the rise. Studies show that depending on modern medicines alone is not enough to keep us healthy. Adopting a lifestyle of good eating habits and proper nutrition can help to ward off many illnesses and keep things like our outward appearance appearing healthy and vital. Following a healthy diet can help teenagers and adults alike who use vigilant skin care routines to thwart acne problems and keep their weight at a height appropriate number, or help them to have a healthy weight loss approach to getting it there.

Women considering pregnancy know that in order to have a healthy baby to add to their all important family circle that they must take care of themselves with regular exercise and a nutritious eating regime. There are many recipe books available for them to use in order to eat well and still give their developing baby all the necessary nutrients it will need to enter this world at the peak of vitality. There are also many known things for them to avoid such as smoking, alcohol and dangerous activities, which seem like common sense. All too often, even for someone who is not pregnant the use of substances such as cigarettes and alcohol can lead to addiction problems later on. With a respect for the life we have been given and a desire to live it to the fullest, it is critical that living a healthy lifestyle be the forefront of everyone’s daily routines.

How Sleep Affects Mental Health and Wellness

There is still much to be known about the link between mental health and sleep, but sleep being a basic foundation of well-being means it can have a certain degree of impact on your mental wellness and capability. A good night’s sleep – just like a healthful diet and lifestyle – is deemed crucial in fostering mental and emotional resilience, with chronic sleep issues feared to set the stage for negative mood and thinking, anxiety, and depression.

Think about it: you absorb new information every day of your life. With sleep, you are able to have the luxury of “down time” to process all these different bits and pieces of information, and then store it in your memory bank. This way they are all available when you need them. Sleep is therefore creative for improving not just concentration but also learning and creativity.

What happens to the mental aspect when you are faced with chronic sleeplessness or insomnia? Here are some of the potential adverse effects:

Your mind may slow down – Did you know that just one night of having inadequate sleep can massively impact your attention span, alertness, concentration, and ability to solve problems? Those who regularly find it hard to sleep could have impaired intelligence and mental development.
Your memory may be less optimal – While you sleep, the things you have learned and experienced during the day are thoughts to be organized or “filed” in your mind properly for future use and access. Now, if you are not getting enough sleep you would have trouble remembering what you go through today.
You may become depressed – Insomnia has been associated with the development of depression. According to some studies, people who regularly reported being unable to sleep were five times more likely to show depression symptoms. It remains unclear, again, where depression was the byproduct of sleeplessness or vice versa. Regardless of this, getting an optimal amount of sleep is considered important in treating this disorder.
You may become less smart – If you don’t get enough sleep, your performance in tasks that use the brain – such as tests or complex projects at work – may suffer. A full night’s sleep, the vital piece of the mental health puzzle that it is, organizes and makes connections within your mind to the information you obtained during the day. Without it, you may have a hard time retrieving those details for school or work the next day.
Your happiness levels may be affected – Sleep lets your brain have the time it needs to properly get into balance the chemicals and hormones affecting mental clarity, emotions, and mood – the bigger context that makes it possible for you to be relaxed, calm, and happy.

There are different ways you may achieve improved sleep. You need to tweak your sleep habits first, following a regular bedtime and waking time schedule and routine, as well as avoiding stimulants like blue light from gadgets and unnecessary noise. If you feel you are in need of greater intervention, it is best to talk to your doctor, sleep psychologist, or an expert who can get to the bottom of your sleeplessness and recommended effective natural sleep remedies.