Whether you are a Baby Boomer who will be retiring in the coming years, or one who is already retired, here are some suggestions from the July-August 2012 issue of the AARP Bulletin that may help you save money and take a step towards better health.
Save Money on Exercise Classes
Until recently, I paid $12 per class to take yoga at a popular yoga school in our neighborhood. Then I discovered that I could take free yoga classes at a number of nearby locations. Some of the classes are taught by junior college instructors who come to our retirement community. Others are taught by retired yoga instructors who want to share their knowledge with others. When I began to explore what was available, I learned that I could also take free chair aerobics classes, Tai Chi classes, Pilates classes, line dancing, weight training, and more. If you want to stay in the best physical condition possible, contact your local Community College or Senior Center to see what free classes may be available in your neighborhood. Be sure to ask local colleges if they have an Emeritus program. These are classes specifically designed for senior citizens and they may be offered free or at a low cost.
You should also check with your health insurance provider. Many of them, including a number of Medicare plans, include free or low-cost membership in health clubs in your community.
Save Money on Health Care
AARP also had several excellent suggestions that may enable people to get easier access to affordable doctors, dentists and ophthalmologists.
Doctor visits: Go to findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov and find a list of federally funded health centers that provide dental and medical care. You will pay based on a sliding scale, depending on your income. In addition, see if you are eligible for low cost health insurance through Medicaid.
Other dental needs: In addition to seeing a dentist at a health center, you may also want to contact a local dental school for low cost care. You can also find resources for affordable dentists at nidcr.nih.gov. If you are eligible for Medicare, you may want to add a supplemental policy for dental and vision care.
Eye care: For those who have reached aged 65, contact EyeCareAmerica.org to see if you qualify to have a voluntary ophthalmologist perform an annual eye exam at no cost. As mentioned under dental needs, if you are on Medicare, you may also want to add a supplemental policy for dental and vision care.
Healthcare Law: Since January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act requires that nearly everyone should have access to free preventive exams and tests, including mammograms, colonoscopies, and bone density scans. This will enable many more people to have access to these life-saving tests, as well as others, with no co-pay or deductible.
Clinical Trials: If you have a chronic or serious illness, and you do not feel you can afford treatment, you may want to try a clinical trial. To find trials that could help you, go to clinicaltrials.gov. My own husband has been in a clinical trial for his chronic kidney disease for five years and we have both been very happy with the success of his trial. Of course there are risks, which each person needs to weigh carefully. However, if there is no other way for you to afford treatment, or if traditional treatments do not seem to be helping you (as was the case with my husband) this is one approach to consider.
Prescription medicines can be a major expense for some people. I was recently standing in line behind an elderly woman at the drug store, and the prescriptions she was picking up totaled over $700. I don't know how she felt about it, but I was stunned!
One way to save money is to use generic versions of drugs whenever you can. In addition, prices differ from store to store. It is definitely worth it to shop around. Don't forget to check out Costco and Sam's Club, even if you are not a member. They are required by law to fill prescriptions for anyone.
The Affordable Care Act is also gradually closing the "doughnut hole" which makes consumers pay the full price for their prescriptions after they have met a deductible. This will help millions of people.
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