Moving from your employer-subsidized health care plan to Medicare or Medicaid can be one of the most complicated, and stressful, transitions for new retirees. Options vary depending on what state you live in. Weighing the cost benefits of affordable but restrictive Advantage plans, versus the freedom of a more expensive Supplement plan, can create budgeting challenges.
We covered the basics of navigating Medicare in a very informative podcast earlier this year. Today, I want to give you some good news: once you do settle on a plan that provides for your health care needs, Medicare offers free preventative services that new retirees should jump on:
1. “Welcome to Medicare” Visit
Yep, that’s the official name of this free preventative service. The government wants you to start your Medicare experience with a checkup that will cover all the basics: things like your current health, family history, blood pressure, vision, weight, and height. This appointment will help you and your doctor create a baseline for your health care, and make sure that you’re up to date on important tests and vaccinations. Make sure you bring all your important medical records to this visit, especially if you’re moving to a new doctor. Make copies of your medical history, immunization records, family medical history, and a list of any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you’re taking.
And while you’re at it, make sure all this important information is copied, scanned, and filed in a place where family members helping you with your health care and estate planning will know where to find it.
Keeping you current on vaccinations is one of the most important free preventative services Medicare provides. As you age, you’re going to become more and more susceptible to common diseases, especially when flu season rolls around. Yes, most folks get their flu shots every year, but Medicare also provides other free vaccinations if your doctor determines you’re at-risk for certain conditions.
3. Depression Screening
In the common popular image of retirement, seniors clock out one last time, have a party, and relax on a beach for the rest of their lives. The actual experience of retirement is not always that simple. New retirees can feel like they’re no longer useful. Some struggle to replace their old working routine with a new, active retirement routine, and spend too much time puttering around at home. Feelings of stress, isolation, and depression are more common among retirees than folks realize.
You might not be enthused about taking advantage of this free preventative service, but a depression screening can go a long way towards addressing, and helping to treat, any negative feelings that are affecting your retirement life. Let a professional help you confront the attitudes and bad habits that are keeping you from enjoying your golden years, and together you can form a plan that will get you out of the house, and back to enjoying yourself.
4. Preventative Screenings and Tests
Medicare provides free preventative screenings that cover a wide array of health concerns common to seniors: prostate exams, colonoscopies, pap tests, mammograms, diabetes screenings, cardiovascular health screenings and many more. Your “Welcome to Medicare” visit will help you and your doctor determine what screenings you need, and Medicare will pay for it.
5. Yearly Wellness Visit
The best way to stay healthy is to get out in front of any potential problems. That’s why Medicare provides so many free preventative services, and encourages you to have at least one yearly wellness visit with your doctors. They’ll check your blood pressure and the other usual measurements, but will also review and assess more age-related risk factors and functional abilities to help you address or avoid health issues.
We take a similar approach to managing your money at Keen Wealth. We start with a baseline financial health report that tells us where you are, and where you want to go. Then we put a plan in place to keep your money, and your retirement goals, healthy. Finally, we use annual checkups with our clients to reassess their finances, and address any turbulence before it can rattle your dream flight into retirement.
So, when you’re scheduling that annual checkup with your doctor, be sure you put an annual checkup with your financial advisor on the calendar too. In health, and in finance, preventative medicine is often the best medicine.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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