If you are getting closer to retirement age, you’ve probably been getting your fair share of reminders. As if you needed reminders. This is a date you’ve had circled on the calendar for years. Dreaming about a fishing boat with your name on it, moving somewhere warm, or even taking a class or two.
On the flip side of that, you also need to consider what being retired means for your health care. If you’ve been receiving health insurance through your employer or through your spouse’s employer, you need to start thinking about what happens when those plans are no longer available.
If you plan on leaving the country for an extended holiday, Medicare may not cover any health care expenses you incur while out of the country. Specific hearing aids or dental services may not be covered, or if you need extended care for a period of time.
Health Care Costs
While your employer-based health care may be gone when you retire, you have been paying into Medicare since you first started working. If you have worked at least 40 quarters (roughly 10 years), you are eligible to enroll in Medicare and start receiving benefits.
For the most part, Medicare part A is free. This will cover hospital or skilled nursing facility stays, some home health services, and hospice care. For doctor services, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, and other services, you will need to enroll in Medicare part B. Out of pocket costs come in the form of part B deductibles and copays.
Parts A and B together are known as Original Medicare, and it takes care of many of the aches and pains you may experience after turning the age of 65. While Original Medicare coverage may pay for some medicine used in conjunction with covered services, it will not pay for prescription drug coverage. Those costs are covered under the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
Original Medicare (OM) also won’t cover most vision, dental, or hearing services or products (unless they are an integral part of a covered service). That’s where a Medicare Advantage plan comes into play, otherwise known as Part C. Medicare beneficiaries who opt for Part C will be covered for all OM services, and may be covered for dental, vision, and hearing services and products, as well as prescription drugs. Medicare Advantage plans often, but not always, have a premium that must be paid in addition to your Part B premium.
Medicare Supplemental Plans in Washington State
Another option to fill the gaps that Original Medicare doesn’t cover is a Medicare Supplement or Medigap plan.
There are 11 standard plans at this time, each offering a specific set of benefits or ways of filling the “gaps” of Medicare. This is important because not every individual will require the same type of plan, although every insurance company must offer the same standardized plan.
Supplemental insurance also covers some out-of-pocket expenses such as copays, deductibles, and coinsurance. Make sure to do the research needed to understand what supplemental plan will work for you over the next year.
Unfortunately, not all plans are offered throughout Washington State. It’s important to understand the Supplement plans that are available to you. There are several private insurance supplemental plans available to Washington residents. Under state law, all of these plans must be Medicare-approved. Also, remember that some healthcare professionals work with Medicare, others won’t. So in addition to finding the right plan for you, you’ll need to find the right physical or health care facility.
By now, you’ve probably already forgotten all about that fishing boat, right? There is a lot to think about, but having your health care costs taken care of plays a big part in enjoying your retirement. By establishing the plans you need, and understanding when to change those plans, you can concentrate on doing the things you want to do.
Let The Experts Help
Since 2003, VibrantUSA has been helping those new to Medicare navigate the landscape as well as helping Medicare veterans change plans or find new health care professionals. We make it our business to know what changes occur from year to year, when doctors come and go, and any new legislation that may affect our clients for better or worse.
The only way we can truly know what our clients need is to get to know our clients. We take the time to find what you want to do with your life and how you want to get there. And once we understand more about you, we can find the best Medicare and Medigap plans.
As an independent agency, we aren’t limited to what we can offer. We have access to more than 50 regional plans offered by more than 30 regional and national insurance carriers. That means we get to choose what’s best for you, not the insurance companies.
If you or a loved one are approaching retirement age and need some guidance on the ins and outs of Medicare, reach out to VibrantUSA. Our licensed insurance specialists look forward to hearing from you!