How to Spend Less on Co-pays

Co-pays Can Be Expensive

Many people are startled to learn that all Medicare coverage comes with substantial Medicare co-payments in addition to monthly premiums. Under original Medicare these co-payments usually leave the patient responsible for 20% of the total bill. What kind of doctor you use can further increase the portion that you are responsible for paying. Luckily, there are several ways to reduce the amount of co-pays you have to pay.

Adding a supplemental policy, also known as a Medigap policy is one of the best ways to reduce your co-pays. These policies help to cover the patient's co-payment portion of the bill. Medigap policies require that you pay an additional premium but in exchange they often will cover the bulk of your health care costs.

It's important to understand that Medigap policies generally do not cover services not covered by Medicare. Some polices have additional coverage but the main focus of these plans is to reduce your co-payment amounts to a reasonable level.

A Medigap policy may cost a very healthy person more than just paying the co-payment amounts. However, if you have ongoing medical conditions or have a catastrophic accident, Medigap policies can keep you financially whole. How healthy you are and your financial situation will determine which Medigap plan makes sense for you. You must apply for these plans within six months of being 65 and receiving Original Medicare Part B.

Retiree and Employment Insurance May Already Meet Your Needs

Many retirees already have supplemental insurance through their retiree health plans or through employment. These private plans all work differently with Original Medicare. Generally speaking, if you have one of these plans you will not need to add a Medigap plan. In addition, if you loose that coverage in the future you will have an opportunity at that time to purchase a Medigap policy.

Use Assignment Providers

One of the best ways to reduce your co-pays is to use Medicare Assignment providers. These providers have established relationships with Medicare that ensure that they will use Medicare amounts as their highest cost for services. Providers who are not Assignment doctors or hospitals can charge more and when they do your co-pays are higher.

Eat Well and Remain Active

You can also lower your co-pays by staying healthy. Leading a healthy lifestyle and eating properly are two proven ways to lead a healthier, longer life. As we age it becomes even more important to take good care of our bodies and watch what we eat. Many diseases and forms of illness are directly related to being overweight or out of shape. Preventive care is another way to monitor your health and catch minor problems before they turn into serious illnesses. Over the long term this will also reduce your copay amounts.

Auntie Lou says, "We can all control what we put in our mouths!"

In summary, Medicare recipients pay substantial co-pays- usually 20%. Retiree health plans and supplemental insurance policies can be use to help pay these extra costs. Whether these policies make financial sense or not will depend on the individual. Using Assignment providers will also reduce your out of pocket expenses as will eating right and taking good care of your health.