A doctor’s visit is usually a means to report any new issues, follow-up from a previous visit, screenings or an annual check-up. The conversation that ensues are your doctor’s expectations and any follow-ups for lab work, etc., before your next visit. Spark a new conversation and consider engaging your physician about changes in healthcare and new policies that you may be unaware of or what you should be considering regarding your health. You might be surprised by what you learn or you may be enlightened with new information that you can pass along, particularly the cost of healthcare as you go into retirement.

   If you don’t know what to ask or you’re a bit shy, ask someone who is familiar with your health needs like a family member, a close friend, or you can google questions to ask concerning your specific needs. To maximize your time with the doctor, keep a diary or a list of incidents, ailments, or changes that have occurred since your last visit. For example, if you had to go the emergency room, you’ll want to make sure you document the date and time of occurrence, how you were feeling, and if you’ve developed a rash or sustained any cuts or bruises that have not healed. The more information you provide, the better the feedback and transparency between doctor-patient relationships; it also lets your doctor know that you, too, are engaged in your well-being.

   Most people are aware of healthcare cost going up and that changes happen every year but are unaware of the expenditures involved. In 2000, health expenditures in the U.S had reached $1.4 trillion and tripled by 2020 to $4.1 trillion. Health expenditures such as hospital care, nursing home care, physicians’ services, clinical services, and prescription drugs contribute to these increases over time and is directly related to social, behavioral, and environmental determinants of health. This includes access to care both physically and financially based on the distribution of money, power and resources. In 2021 there was an increase between 4%-10% for mental health utilization and specialty drugs.

   The impact of determinants

Social can range from food and housing, racism and violence, to

socioeconomic status and education, and dying a premature death

or suffering from poor health.

Behavioral can range from addictions to exercise and obesity.

Environmental can range from poor water systems, climate change 

to the depletion of the ozone layer in the air.

   According to Peterson-KFF System Tracker, the average growth in health spending costs from 2010-2019 showed an increase of 4.2%. However, its biggest increase was 9.7% from 2019-2020, surpassing the 2018-2019 increase of 4.3%. Fidelity Investments estimates healthcare costs, to include medical, for a baby boomer of 65 years old to pay $300,000 for the duration of their retirement. 

   Medicare costs and age-related healthcare services will continue to rise. Although original Medicare will continue to cover Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance), there are some limitations. Outpatient hospital care is covered, however, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids, and medical marijuana are not covered. The good news is it will also pay for home healthcare services and skilled nursing facility (SNT) expenses; hospice care would be for a limited period of time. Medicaid covers similar services as Medicare but it does include clinic visits and inpatient and outpatient hospitalization. It does not cover services that are not medically necessary or that are covered by another government agency.

   Remember, this is the time to invest in your long-term care needs. Set goals to determine your healthcare needs by charting a framework and formulating a financial plan to meet them. A healthcare expert can help you to streamline the process. Investing in your health from exercising, playing a sport, preventative care, and making lifestyle changes will play a part in determining your costs and long-term care, and in having a healthy physiological and psychological relationships.

Did You Know?

There are no limitations on the number of doctor visits under Medicare, however, there is a cap on the number of tests and frequency of visits for specialty services, some will also make a home visit. You can discuss this with your doctor or contact Medicare at 800-633-4227. 

Know before you go outside the U.S. what services are covered and inform your doctor about your travel so that you are prepared for any emergencies that may arise.

If you have questions or would like to read about a specific healthcare topic, please email your questions to LrTBrooks@gmail.com. I look forward to your engagement.

La-Villa Brooks
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