We all know our basic healthcare rights. Whether you live in the US or the UK, your fundamental rights are clear: high-quality care, access to services, nationally approved treatments, consent and confidentiality, and the ability to make informed choices are key components.
As we pass 60, you’re entitled to some extra healthcare rights. Knowing what these are and making use of them can help to maintain your overall health and wellbeing.
So, what are some of these 60+ healthcare rights that you should keep in mind? Below, I’ve outlined five of the most important ones that you might not know about.
For many of us, taking regular prescriptions is a necessary – but expensive – everyday expense. One of the great benefits that we have after we pass 60 though is that we can get prescriptions at a much cheaper price.
If you have healthcare insurance in the US, Medicare Part D covers a wide range of prescription drugs and, depending on the specific drug you need, a percentage of the cost will be covered by this legislation. In the UK, the NHS offers free prescriptions to anyone over the age of 60.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 brought in a lot of healthcare-related benefits for over 60s. Although dental care was unfortunately not included in this – leading to many patients travelling abroad for treatments like dental implants – the legislation does require that Medicare plans cover the full cost of certain routine check-ups.
This includes essential services such as an annual medical check-up and flu vaccinations. The legislation also requires all Medicare plans to cover preventative services like colonoscopies and mammograms.
Similar services are offered to over 60s in the UK, with the NHS covering the cost of preventative tests like mammograms, bowel cancer screening, and abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. Patients eligible for these tests through the NHS are usually sent appointment arrangements automatically by mail.
Despite exercise being an essential part of maintaining our overall health, gym memberships can be unaffordable at times. Thankfully though, many gyms offer significant membership discounts for over 60s.
In the US, you might be able to access this through your health insurance plan, while in the UK individual gyms usually offer discounts for new members and special deals for group exercise classes. For over 60s, going to the gym is a great way to ease stress and keep in shape.
Although the cost of regular eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses isn’t usually covered by Medicare in the US, there are certain situations in which these can fall under the insurance umbrella for over 60s.
If you’re diabetic, for example, Medicare Part B will partially cover the cost of one eye test per year. This is done to detect the presence of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can occur in patients who have had diabetes for a long time.
In the UK, you can get a free eye test as often as you need one if you’re over 60. This tends to be every two years but can be more frequent depending on specific advice from your ophthalmologist. You can even arrange to have your free eye test performed at home if you’re unable to make it to your optician due to an illness or disability.
Health insurance and Medicare in the US can be extremely complicated. When it comes to knowing which specific plan to choose, things can quickly become overwhelming. But what many over 60s aren’t aware of is that you’re entitled to health insurance counselling, completely free of charge.
Health insurance counselling for seniors is run through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). If you’re already covered by Medicare, you can make use of their services free of charge and get advice on things like adjusting your Medicare plan, what your insurance does and doesn’t cover, and what you’re eligible for.
Whether you live in the US or the UK, knowing – and making use of – your healthcare rights as you pass 60 can help to improve your overall health. If you’re looking for more specific guidance for your individual situation, speak to your doctor about what benefits you can make use of.
For general information on your healthcare rights, you can also check the official Medicare website if you’re in the US and the NHS Constitution if you’re in the UK.
Are you aware of your healthcare rights and benefits as you pass 60? What new benefits have you discovered this year? Do you make use of them? Please share with the community!