MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT INSURANCE AND RETIREMENT PLANNING
Retirement readiness is one of the most important things you can consider as you reach the end of your working days. Do you know how you’ll handle expenses, healthcare, your retirement accounts, and other investments? If not, it’s time to consider the details of retirement, including Medicare Supplement insurance.
Unfortunately, many people who are approaching age 65 fail to think about what their post-retirement lives might look like. They’ve been responsible and contributed to a 401(k) or IRA account, but they haven’t considered the details that make retirement more comfortable and less stressful. A Medigap plan can help you feel more secure.
Let’s look at some of the finer details about Medicare Supplement insurance and your retirement checklist.
WHAT ARE YOUR HEALTHCARE CHOICES UPON RETIREMENT?
When you retire, you typically give up your group health insurance coverage, though some employers allow you to hold onto it for a specific period of time following retirement. Either way, the sooner you consider your healthcare options, the better.
Medicare Supplement insurance is a viable option when you want to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses under Original Medicare. A Medigap plan can cover deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance that you might otherwise have to pay yourself.
You can also stick with Original Medicare on its own or choose a Medicare ADVANTAGE plan, which is a separate insurance policy that takes the place of Original Medicare. Medicare Supplement insurance is also a separate insurance policy, but you have it in addition to Original Medicare Parts A and B.
DO YOU NEED MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT INSURANCE DURING RETIREMENT?
Whether you need Medicare Supplement insurance depends on your personal needs. If you want Original Medicare, but you don’t want to be responsible for certain out-of-pocket costs, a Medigap plan might offer the best solution.
Many retiring professionals prefer Medigap plans because they help make budgeting easier. You pay a consistent monthly premium to your insurance carrier to keep your policy active. In return, your insurer covers the agreed upon healthcare services so you don’t have to write a check.
If you decide you want Medicare Supplement insurance, you’ll need to decide which plan suits you best. There are currently 10 standard offerings, each of which covers a different set of out-of-pocket expenses. Those that cover more deductibles and copayments tend to have higher monthly premiums.
HOW CAN A MEDIGAP PLAN MAKE RETIREMENT LESS STRESSFUL?
Many retirees live on fixed incomes. In other words, the same amount of money comes into your bank account each month. If you need medical treatment, you have to account for the related expenses by reaching into your savings or cutting back on other expenses.
Medicare Supplement insurance often reduces stress by allowing you to budget in advance. For instance, if you choose one of the more comprehensive Medigap plans, such as C, F, or G, you won’t have many out-of-pocket healthcare costs.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD BE ON YOUR RETIREMENT CHECKLIST?
Once you’ve decided how to handle your retirement healthcare needs, there are still other decisions to make. The following is a handy checklist to follow as you prepare for retirement and make important decisions that can impact your health and finances for decades to come.
FIND PHYSICIANS AND FACILITIES THAT ACCEPT MEDICARE
You’ll want to check with your existing healthcare providers to find out whether they accept Medicare. Some primary care physicians accept Medicare patients, while others do not. Some will keep existing patients who have Medicare, but won’t accept new Medicare patients.
Additionally, figure out what facilities and specialists in your area will accept your Medicare Supplement insurance. For instance, get in touch with your local hospital and survey specialists whose services you might need, such as cardiologists and rheumatologists. When you have a list of providers at hand, you don’t have to panic when you need their help.
TALK TO YOUR PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN ABOUT NECESSARY TESTS
When you reach retirement age, you might discover that you need to undergo regular tests and screenings to make sure you remain healthy. As you get older, the list of screenings expands.
Ask your primary care physician for a list of tests and screenings you’ll need and how frequently you should get them done. Some might be annual, for instance, while you may have to repeat some of them every few years.
You can then find providers who perform these tests and accept your Medicare Supplement insurance. Again, having this list in advance will make the entire process easier and less stressful.
SET ASIDE ROOM IN YOUR BUDGET FOR OUT-OF-POCKET HEALTHCARE EXPENSES
You also need to carefully consider your budget. What portion needs to go toward out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, including your insurance premiums?
If you have Medicare Supplement insurance, you’ll pay a minimum of two premiums every month. One is for Original Medicare and the other is for your Medigap plan. If you choose, you can also get a third policy for prescription coverage under Original Medicare Part D.
While you can’t forecast unexpected healthcare expenses, consider setting aside a set amount of money every month for healthcare costs. That way, if you need it, you can pay for healthcare costs without stress.
CONDUCT COMPARISON SHOPPING FOR MEDIGAP PLANS
As mentioned above, there are 10 Medigap plans, each of which covers different out-of-pocket expenses. However, after you choose the plan that works best for you, you’ll want to shop for plans from different insurance companies.
Every insurance company that offers a specific Medigap plan covers the same expenses. However, each insurance company sets its own premiums for Medicare Supplement insurance. One company might charge $110 per month for Medigap Plan C, while another charges $120. They both offer the same coverage, so you might choose the less expensive insurer to save money.
Creating a retirement checklist gives you more control over your retirement. Plus, you enjoy the satisfaction of crossing each item off the list once you complete it or make a final decision.
Considering Medicare Supplement insurance is essential if you want to control your out-of-pocket healthcare costs. You might decide another route works best for you, but don’t fail to consider every possibility. Once you’ve decided on a Medigap Plan, conduct comparison shopping to find the right insurer for you.