Planning for Retirement: Part III

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Continuing our series on retirement planning, we’ve already touched on diversifying our investments to account for downturns in the market. We’ve made sure that we’re knowledgeable about extra expenses that might arise as a result of limited mobility or other physical limitations that come with age. Along those lines, we also need to be realistic about our health and medical concerns as they pertain to insurance and medication costs. It is important to understand this whether or not your age qualifies you for Medicare.

It seems inevitable that as we get older we might need to start incorporating some daily medications into our routine. Hopefully they will be fairly mild maintenance medications that help our body function at its best so we can maintain the normal functions of our daily life. But, even if that’s not the case, it’s important to take a look at the financial impact of maintaining our health with routine doctors visits and possibly medications.

It’s quite possible that we might end up with a number of different medications, which can be costly, even with insurance. Some insurance plans will give a reduced rate on medications if they are considered a maintenance drug and are refillable on a regular basis. For example, if the doctor is able to write the prescription for a three-month supply rather than one month at a time, not only is the savings on the medication usually pretty significant, but you save on trips to the pharmacy as well.

Generic drugs are another way to save on medications and many pharmacies now offer $4 refills on some of the most common ones. Some insurance plans may even offer zero co-pay on these generic drugs so it’s definitely worth talking to your doctor about them.

If a generic equivalent is not available for your medication, many doctors are not opposed to giving some samples. This can be of benefit for two reasons. First, you are given a chance to try the medicine to make sure it’s a good fit for you, but also you are reducing the overall cost by getting a few of them for free.

Even though medications can be expensive, more than likely our expenses in the medical area will come from the actual doctor visits. Our well visits might not be a huge expense since most insurance plans encourage well visits and cover a good portion of the cost, if not all of it. However, as we age and need to see various specialists for this or that, the medical bills may start to climb and we need to be prepared for that.

These suggestions can be applied whether you’re planning for retirement or not, of course. As with any other area of our budgets, it’s important to make wise choices and be the best stewards possible with what God has entrusted to us.

“If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments…the Lord, your God, will bless you.”—Deuteronomy 30:16

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