Retirement should be a beautiful thing. All your life, you’ve worked hard and achieved great things. Now, it’s time for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor. With this in mind, you’ve been carefully saving and investing your retirement nest egg, and you’ve got a tidy little sum to live off of for the rest of your life. But, if you’re like many Americans, there’s a complication: You have serious health care bills to worry about.
Health care costs in the United States are out of control. Getting sick in this country costs more than it does virtually anywhere else in the world. And while our health care providers are talented and dedicated, they can only do so much about a system that leads so many people to go bankrupt over their medical debt.
Your golden years shouldn’t require you to be King Midas. But how can you get the care that you need without being buried in bills? Here are some important options to consider.
In the United States, we have long had an employer-based health insurance system. That means that, in most cases, people get their health insurance through their jobs. You can probably already see the problem, and so did the government. So, in 1965, we got Medicare. Medicare is the government’s health insurance program for seniors. Hopefully, you’re already enrolled.
But making the most of Medicare is not always as easy as it should be. You should do your research and consider reaching out to Medicare advisers. Some work for free, and you can look for information sessions in places such as your local library or community center. Make sure that you’re taking advantage of every money-saving Medicare strategy you could use.
A viatical settlement
Do you have a life insurance policy? If so, you may have a path forward in dealing with your medical bills.
A life insurance policy is, of course, designed to pay out after you die. It helps your loved ones handle things such as funeral costs. When you were younger and still working, your policy was also vital for covering the lost income that your family would deal with if you died unexpectedly. But now, money in your hands would be worth more than money after you’re gone. You want to leave your family an estate, not just debt. But how can you pay medical bills with money you don’t have yet?
What you can do is, in essence, sell your life insurance payout before you get it. A viatical settlement, say the pros at the aptly named Sell My Life Insurance Policy, allows you to get cash now in exchange for your eventual insurance settlement. It’s an option for those who are sick and need cash for their care.
Reconsidering your health care plans
You need to care for your health, but you don’t necessarily need to do so in exactly the way that you are doing so now. One major decision you may face is whether to remain in your home or turn to a nursing home or senior health center for care, say the pros at one assisted living community in New Jersey.
While not necessarily cheap, nursing home care can be wonderful for your health and, crucially, may free you to sell the home that you live in now. That won’t be an easy decision, of course, but doing so could transform that valuable asset into liquid funds that you could use to cover your all-important health care.
If moving out is absolutely not an option, you could also consider a reverse mortgage. As the name implies, a reverse mortgage reverses your role with your lender in a couple of important ways. Instead of sending cash to your lender each month, you’ll receive it. It’s a bit like selling your home in installments, but you can keep living there for life (and your heirs, if they so choose, can pay off the loan and keep your home).
You don’t always have easy options when you’re struggling with health care costs. But don’t give up hope. Consider the options above, and seek trusted advisers (including professionals, not just your family members and friends) to learn more.