Many people assume that once they retire, they'll spend a lot less on living expenses than they did during their working years. But if there's one cost that tends to rise among seniors, it's healthcare. In fact, Fidelity recently estimated that a 65-year-old couple retiring this year will spend $285,000 on medical expenses throughout retirement when we factor in costs like Medicare premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and copays.
The good news, however, is that Medicare enrollees are entitled to a number of no-cost services designed to keep them healthy. If you're planning to enroll in Medicare, or have already signed up, here are a handful you should know about.
1. Annual wellness visits
Most health insurance plans offer enrollees one free wellness checkup a year, and Medicare is no exception. Your wellness visit is a good opportunity to see how you're faring health-wise and get ahead of any issues that may be brewing.
2. Alcohol counseling
Substance abuse impacts people of all ages. Medicare will cover the cost of alcohol counseling so that you can kick your addiction without incurring a pile of bills.
3. Smoking cessation programs
Smoking is more than just an unhealthy habit; it's an expensive one. If you're looking to quit, Medicare will allow you to enroll in an approved program at no cost.
4. Depression screenings
Retirees are 40% more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than workers. Part of that stems from the fact that physical health issues tend to creep up as people age, which could have a mental impact as well. Also, because many retirees go from being busy at work to being overwhelmingly bored, that lifestyle adjustment can take a toll. Thankfully, Medicare offers an annual depression screening for free so that if you're suffering from it, you can get the help you need.
5. Annual mammograms
Diagnostic tests can be expensive, and many people skip them to avoid hefty bills. In doing so, however, they put their well-being at risk. Medicare offers free mammography services once a year so that women can stay on top of their health.
6. Obesity counseling
Being overweight opens the door to a wide range of health issues. Medicare will cover the cost of obesity counseling for enrollees whose weight puts them in that at-risk category.
7. Colorectal cancer screenings
The chances of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer increase with age. Medicare allows enrollees to get ahead of the problem by offering certain screening tests for free, the frequency of which will depend on the risk group you fall into.
8. Flu shots
Seniors who get the flu are more likely to suffer complications than younger adults who contract it. Medicare offers free flu shots to enrollees to help them avoid falling ill during flu season
9. Bone mass measurements
The risk of osteoporosis increases with age. Medicare will cover the cost of bone mass measurements once every two years for those at risk of osteoporosis.
10. Diabetes screenings
Treating diabetes early on can help patients avoid complications. Medicare will pay for up to two diabetes screenings per year, depending on your level of risk. Medicare also offers training on how to manage diabetes, but for that, you'll share in the cost. Medicare also has a diabetes prevention program you can enroll in if you haven't been diagnosed with the condition but are at risk for it. That program is totally free.
It pays to take advantage of the free services Medicare offers to keep yourself as healthy as possible. And if you're new to Medicare, read up on how the program works so that you're able to benefit from the different services it provides.