How to Beat the Healthcare Odds in These Uncertain Times Healthcare coverage in the future is uncertain, which has many families worried. Here are a few things to consider today. BY CHRIS ORESTIS
Living a healthier lifestyle is one of the more predictable actions couples can take during these uncertain times.
“ Employees need to consider how much medical care they think they and their families will need in the coming year.”
Concerns about healthcare are on the rise in the United States.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that Americans list healthcare as tied for the nation’s No. 1 problem, right along with dissatisfaction with government. Each of those was named by 18 percent of the people polled, far outdistancing any other worry.
Maybe it’s no coincidence that those two issues cause equal amounts of anxiety among Americans. There’s a lot of debate in Washington about what role government should play in healthcare, and a lot of couples may be worried that lawmakers aren’t coming up with good answers.
The Gallup poll above is an indication that people around the country have come to realize how important healthcare coverage is for them, and how easy it is to lose it.
With so much uncertainty about what would replace Obamacare if the move to repeal it continues, it may fall to each individual to take measures to make sure the odds are in their favor. The key to doing that is to understand how to get the most out of what you already have. While you can't control in the immediate future of what the government will do about healthcare, you can reconsider what you're doing with your health.
Some factors to consider include:
Weigh employer-provided options. Most Americans get health insurance at work, and usually there are coverage options to choose from. Employees need to consider how much medical care they think they and their families will need in the coming year. If you don’t expect to need a lot of healthcare, select a plan that has lower premiums, but higher deductibles and co-pays. If you know you’ll need lots of care and prescriptions, choose the plan with higher premiums, but lower deductibles and co-pays.
Make sure you understand Medicare. Medicare offers numerous choices that allow people to put together the best combination of benefits for their needs and budgets. But beware! Enrolling in Medicare can be complicated. If you’re not careful, you can miss out on coverage you need or pay more in premiums, co-pays and deductibles than you realize or can afford.
Plan for long-term care. Many people eventually require some type of long-term care, such as a nursing home or assisted-living facility, and the cost is hefty. It can be difficult to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid to pay for long-term care, and if you do qualify there are restrictions. Long-term care providers prefer some sort of private pay, such as personal savings, long-term care insurance, annuities or exchanging a life insurance policy for long-term care benefits. You need to plan ahead, because the worst time to start planning is when you’re already in a crisis.
Ultimately, the best strategy is to stay healthy so you need as little healthcare as possible. If you invest in your physical, mental and emotional health today, you’ll be repaid with a better lifestyle and less need for doctors and prescription medicine in the future.
Chris Orestis, Executive Vice President of GWG Life (www.gwglife.com), is an over 20-year veteran of the insurance and long-term care industries and is nationally recognized as a healthcare expert and senior care advocate. He is a former Washington, D.C. lobbyist who has provided legislative testimony; the author of two books: "Help on the Way" and "A Survival Guide to Aging"; a frequent columnist with a currently popular series entitled "The Healthcare Hunger Games"; and has been a featured guest on over 50 radio programs and in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Kiplinger’s, Investor’s Business Daily, PBS, and numerous other media outlets.