The Best Healthcare Coverage Options for Seniors
The older you get, the more your options for healthcare may seem to be limited…at least, that’s how it seems. And the options that do exist can be expensive…especially in certain age groups (and not the ones you might think).
Let’s look at how your health coverage options change as you age, starting with the age group that’s hardest hit by higher costs. Here’s what you should know about Medicare and its various parts and plans.
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50 to 64
You would expect health care expenses to rise as you age, but most people think of a much higher age range than this. However, with the help of Medicare and other programs, health care coverage has been made more affordable for senior citizens.
Unfortunately, Medicare isn’t an option until you’re 65. As a result, the 50 to 64 age group has the worst of both worlds; overall health problems start to increase for many during this age range, but coverage doesn’t improve. In fact, in some ways, it becomes worse.
People in this age range are in for a shock, as the average overall costs for people in the 50-64 age bracket are higher, sometimes as much as 250% higher than other groups.
In America, most states permit insurance companies to set premium amounts based on age and overall health, which means this group will pay more for the same coverage than someone in a younger or older age bracket.
The 50 to 64 age group is old enough to be considered a higher risk for insurance companies, yet too young to benefit from Medicare. This is one of the reasons why almost 40% of those 50 to 64 in America have no health insurance at all. (1)
65 and Older
Congratulations, you now qualify for Medicare! Even so, this age group is still in for a shock, because “Medicare” isn’t a magic word that makes health coverage simple; far from it.
Once you’re ready to start your Medicare coverage, Medicare Part A will cover any hospitalizations or other serious treatments you need with no charge, but Part B has a monthly premium. Part B covers most of your doctor visits and smaller, “every day” medical costs, while Part D helps with prescription medication costs; Part D also has a monthly premium that must be paid.
That’s not the end of the decisions you’ll have to make, though. Medigap insurance is a necessity for most; this helps cover the costs that Medicare doesn’t. And once again (you guessed it), this will come with a premium. In fact, this premium will most likely be higher than your regular Medicare premiums, as Medigap coverage is offered and managed by private insurance companies.
You can also choose to enroll in Medicare Part C, which is also a product of private companies called Medicare Advantage. This would replace your Part D coverage (and provided better coverage overall), but you’re not eligible for Part C unless you already have Parts A and B.
As you can see, while you have more help waiting for you after age 65 when it comes to healthcare, it comes in part at the cost of a sometimes-bewildering array of choices and options.
Making the wrong decisions could literally cost you thousands of dollars per year, so it’s important to make the right choices for you.
Whether you’re looking for the right coverage before 65, or you need help navigating the maze of decisions once you do reach Medicare age, your best bet is to do your research, find a qualified, knowledgeable professional that can give you the advice you can trust, and talk to them.
One final note: don’t wait too late to start finding out more, especially if you’re approaching 65. Missing your enrollment window for Medicare can cost you thousands of dollars in penalties that will stay with you for as long as you have Medicare coverage. Find out what your options and deadlines are today(2).