Useful Medicare Fact & Myth Rules
Health care costs in retirement: Medicare Facts & Myths
(BPT) – As their 65th birthday looms, many people eagerly anticipate the affordable access to health care that Medicare will provide. After all, Medicare covers everything, right? Not exactly. Because of this common misconception, many people are caught off guard when they realize that each one of the dozens of Medicare options available to them comes with its own set of out-of-pocket cost implications. In fact, a survey of the newly retired found 43 percent are spending more on health care than they had planned & have a hard time understanding Medicare Facts & Myths.
The more you know about Medicare plans and costs, the better prepared you’ll be to avoid unpleasant surprises. Think you’re savvy enough to discern myth from fact when it comes to your health care costs in retirement? Read on to put your knowledge to the test.
Myth: When comparing Medicare plans, it’s best to choose the lowest-premium option to help minimize your costs.
Medicare Fact: While premiums are an important factor when choosing a health care plan, they should not be the only factor – or necessarily the most important either. Sometimes a low monthly premium option comes with higher out-of-pocket costs or lacks benefits and services that are important to you.
It’s best to understand the total costs of a plan – including the deductibles, copays, and coinsurance – as well as any benefit limitations that could increase your costs. For example, if the hospital you use isn’t in a plan’s network, you’ll likely incur higher costs if you choose to access care there. If you like to exercise and stay active, a plan that covers a fitness center membership could save you the expense of a monthly gym membership. Want to see a dentist or optometrist? Original Medicare likely won’t cover that care, meaning you’ll have to pay for it out-of-pocket unless you choose a Medicare Advantage plan with dental and vision coverage.
Myth: If I enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, I will pay only one premium. And if my plan has a $0 premium, I won’t have to pay any premium at all.
Medicare Fact: Its simplicity is one reason Medicare Advantage has grown so rapidly. Simplicity of Medicare Advantage is one of the reasons enrollment in these plans has grown so dramatically.”]. Many people appreciate the convenience of wrapping all of their Medicare coverage into one plan and having just one card in their wallet. That said, choosing Medicare Advantage doesn’t mean you’re totally off the hook in terms of paying monthly premiums. You are still responsible for paying your Part B premium. In 2018, the standard Part B premium is $134, but it may be higher or lower depending on your income.
Myth: There isn’t much you can do to contain or manage health care costs. It’s mostly up to chance or luck.
Medicare Fact: While no one can predict or completely control their future health care needs, you can take steps to protect yourself from high health care expenses. Choosing a Medicare plan that limits the amount you spend on health care costs during the year is one option to consider. Look for plans with an out-of-pocket maximum, which is the most you will pay for covered services in a year. Once you reach that amount, your plan will cover 100 percent of the cost of the Medicare-covered services you receive, and you’ll pay only your premiums. Medicare Advantage plans and two Medicare supplement plans include out-of-pocket maximums.
Medicare supplement plans can also offer some predictability in your health care costs by covering many of the costs Original Medicare doesn’t, such as coinsurance, copays, and deductibles.
“Regardless of the plan you choose, everyone can stand to benefit by being proactive about taking care of their health,” said Efrem Castillo, the chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “Eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, seeing your primary care doctor annually, getting your recommended cancer screenings and taking your medications exactly as prescribed are all steps you can take to help protect your health and possibly your wallet from the expense of managing major health issues later on.”
So how did you do? Do you know the difference between Medicare Facts & Myths? Regardless of whether you aced this test or were totally stumped, there’s much more to learn when it comes to a topic this complex.
To get smart on all things Medicare, check out MedicareMadeClear.com. The information on the site is neatly organized into categories to help you find what you’re looking for. The videos, quizzes, guides and frequently asked questions in the resources section of the site can also be helpful tools. AARP.org is another great resource. Visit the “Retirement” and “Money” sections for information that can help you better understand health care costs during retirement and how to manage and plan for them.
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Thanks so much for a very informative post on the nuances of Medicare. My husband and I are about six months away from taking this first important step, and we know it must be done properly. You gave us a good start with some excellent references.
Glad to hear we were of some help to you, Francine. Sign up to be notified when our posts are published, and you may see another one that will interest you.
I can tell you first hand, that taking the lowest cost plan isn’t usually the best selection. I almost went that route until I did a lot more research. Sure glad that sites like yours and others take the time and expense to publish these free informational posts. Thanks for your concerns with we older citizens.
Thanks for your kind words Howard, and yes, we do have a special interest in senior adults. Check back often.
My wife and I are both getting near the age where we will have to decide on one of the Medicare plans. I was under the impression that they were pretty cut and dry, but apparently not. We have a friend who is in the “business” and we are now planning to contact him for an appointment. Thanks for the heads up on this very important topic.
Yes, Walter, the choices that you will need to make regarding Medicare are important. A friend who is up to date and experienced on Medicare plans and procedures can be a big help.
Thanks so much for such an informative post. It has been very helpful for me, especially the referrals mentioned in the last paragraph. My husband took care of all our financial matters, but he recently passed and now I have to get familiar with it.
When my husband and I planned for our retirement, we thought the amount for health care seemed way too high, so we cut it back a bit. Now, I wish we had saved much more. He has several medical issues and our portion of the costs is really high. The premiums for our supplemental insurance are high as well.