Seven Features of an Ideal Health Plan for Older Americans
Whether you are one of millions of older Americans or merely planning for your future, you will want a health insurance plan that protects you against medical emergencies, offers long-term care, and ensures cost savings for a wide variety of drugs and therapies. As you prepare for your twilight years, there are a number of features in a health plan that you should consider. In many cases, you may be able to get all you need in a single health insurance, but you may also wish to get a primary policy that is supplemented by more specialized, secondary plans that fill in any coverage gaps.
- Government assistance—one of the most important features of a health plan is cost effectiveness, and a great way to save money while getting the most out of your plan is to have the federal government help pay for it. If you are approaching age 65, then you should begin researching your Medicare options. Medicare has a number of components including hospitalization, outpatient services and prescription drugs, all at a steep discount for seniors. You may even opt for a Medicare Advantage plan that has all of the same core benefits as traditional Medicare, and may also include benefits for vision or dental.
If you make limited income, you may also qualify for another government assistance program, Medicaid. Many states recently expanded their Medicaid programs, making it easier to qualify for help. You may wish to visit your state’s Medicaid website to learn what the requirements are. In some cases, you may even qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid simultaneously.
- Lifestyle alignment—when you shop for a health insurance policy, be sure to discuss your future life plans with the agent. If, for example, you plan on traveling across the country or, even, the globe, then you will probably want a plan with the broadest possible network or that allows you to see out-of-network providers. You may also want a policy that rewards you for healthy habits if you are a regular exerciser, stay trim or refrain from smoking.
- Monthly premiums—it is only natural that you want to pay the least amount for your health insurance policy, but make sure you consider all of your financial responsibilities. You should remember that, in addition to the monthly premium, you will also be expected to pay an annual deductible (your financial responsibility before your policy kicks in), copays and any amount beyond your coverage maximum. If you are healthy and only require routine checkups, a low premium/high deductible plan may be right for you. On the other hand, if you see a physician often or take many pricey medications, you should probably consider a plan with higher premiums, but with lower copays.
- Vision and dental benefits—it is a fact of nature that as we age, our bodies begin to deteriorate. When we begin experiencing issues with our eyesight and our teeth, however, this can dramatically impact our independence and quality of life. That is why it is very important for aging people to have a health plan that includes dental and vision benefits. Most health plans do not normally include dental and vision benefits—a notable exception are some Medicare Advantage plans—so you may need to get a supplemental policy. In most cases, vision and dental policies are only a few dollars a month.
- Critical illness protection—heart attack, stroke and cancer are the leading killers of Americans, and your risk for these only grow as you age. That is why it is essential that you get critical illness coverage, especially if you have certain risk factors like tobacco use, obesity or genetic predisposition. A normal health insurance policy may help defray some of the costs of treatment, but you could easily surpass your annual or lifetime coverage limit if you need a pricey procedure or course of treatment. A critical illness supplemental policy will not only pay for these therapies but may also provide a lump sum for living and travel expenses.
- Prescription drugs—if you are suffering from a chronic health condition like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, you are probably taking at least one medication. As you probably know, many of these prescription drugs are very expensive, so you want to reduce their cost in any way possible. You may be able to sign up for Medicare Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug benefits if you are over age 65. Otherwise, you may wish to shop around for a health plan with prescription drug benefits; be sure to discuss any drugs you are on with your insurance agent to ensure a particular plan covers it.
- Maximum coverage—perhaps the most important feature of a health plan is how much total financial protection it offers. While you probably haven’t considered how much insurance you had while you were younger and healthier, it becomes a much more important issue as you age and are at greater risk for more dangerous health issues. A single heart transplant may cost you as much as $990,000, far more than the typical health insurance policy will cover. Of course, you may not need that much coverage, but it is far better to have it and not need it, than not have it and need it. The additional cost of a few dollars a month may be a lifesaving investment down the road.
While there are many health and financial concerns associated with getting older, many of these can be mitigated or, even, eliminated with the right preparation. One of the cornerstones of a well-planned retirement is a robust health insurance plan that not only protects your body, but also the nest egg you have been saving up all these years. To learn more about what kind of health insurance policy is right for you, please speak with one of the insurance agents at Boost Health Insurance.
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