Some call Medicare the ultimate government entitlement program. Seniors, many of whom contributed to the system while working, tend to disagree with that assessment. For many, Medicare is the only way they can afford medical care, at a time when often it is the most needed. However, Medicare never was intended to be there to pay for everything. Seniors often find that out-of-pocket expenses can be unexpected, and larger than they believed they would be.
Don’t Rely on Basic Medicare Alone
Supplemental plans are available to increase the coverage given under Medicare. Part A covers hospitalizations, Part B increases coverage for routine medical care, and Part D covers prescription drugs. In addition, with the Affordable Health Act in place, hospital and doctor costs should come down because efficiency is rewarded.
However, there are costs that still need to be considered in addition to premiums. Some of the supplemental plans require deductibles and none of them cover every cost. Because there are no limit caps, copays and deductibles can add up to be quite sizable. Seniors can cover some of the limitations and gaps in coverage with privately administered plans like Medicare Advantage and Medigap. This means additional premiums that will be out-of-pocket.
Seniors also need to realize that the longer they wait to get coverage under the supplemental plans, the more expensive it becomes. A common mistake is to put off signing up under the open enrollment period because they think they are healthy and will save money by not signing up as of yet. It’s not a savings if you need it later. For example, Part D’s premium goes up 1% per month every month for an eligible person who hasn’t signed up for it, Part B increases 10% for each 12 months delayed. If you are still working after the age of 65 in a job with a health plan, you have a window of eight months after leaving the job to enroll in your Medicare plans.
Seniors need to carefully consider their future health plans. They need to be realistic about possible future health issues, types of coverage they can afford, and supplemental plans they may need to have in place. Seniors need to take advantage of free or low-cost preventative care treatments that they are allowed to have under Medicare. This can possibly head off future health problems.
There’s a lot to think about, but talking with an insurance specialist can help you develop a plan that will work for you.