The months right before and right after retirement are often a blur of activity. There are many major life decisions that have to be made in a short window of time. You may be tying up loose ends at work so you can leave on a good note. You may be examining your investments and developing an income plan. You also are likely making personal decisions about downsizing, travel or even relocation to your dream locale.
One major planning point for retirees is transitioning from employer-sponsored health coverage to Medicare. For most retirees, Medicare is an important benefit. Traditional Medicare—consisting of parts A and B—covers hospitalizations and most costs associated with doctor visits. Part D helps with prescription drug costs.
Medicare is a valuable resource, but it doesn’t cover everything. In fact, there are a number of expenses that are almost never covered. If you don’t plan ahead and develop a strategy for these costs, you may have to pay them out of pocket as they arise, and that could limit your ability to enjoy a secure and comfortable retirement.
Below are a few common items that aren’t generally covered by Medicare. If you haven’t planned for these expenses, now may be the time to do so.
International Medical Treatment
Does your vision for retirement include international travel? Do you plan on seeing the world, or do you dream of living part or even all of the year in your favorite international destination?
Before you pack your bags and book your trip, you should take some time to investigate your health care options. That’s because Medicare usually doesn’t cover treatment provided abroad. Some countries may have government-backed care, but it’s not always available to foreign visitors. You may need to buy a separate policy to cover any possible care you receive while you are outside the United States.
Vision, Hearing and Dental Checkups
Vision, hearing and dental are common components of most employer-sponsored plans, so it may come as a shock that they’re not included in Medicare. However, you can sometimes get this coverage if you opt for a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, is an option in which a private insurer bundles Medicare benefits with supplemental coverage.
Medicare will cover some of these costs if the treatment is associated with a medical condition. For example, vision treatment may be covered when connected to an issue like cataracts. However, don’t expect Medicare to cover routine checkups or dental cleanings.
For many seniors, home modifications become a necessary strategy at some point. The retiree may have reduced mobility and might require grab bars and other safety devices in the bathroom. They may need a wheelchair, requiring ramps and the widening of doorways.
While these modifications might be medically necessary, they usually aren’t covered by Medicare. However, if you are prescribed medical equipment for a specific condition and that equipment must stay in your home, that cost might be covered.
Long-term care is extended assistance with basic living activities such as eating, mobility, bathing and more. It is often provided either in a facility or by an in-home aide. Many seniors require long-term care due to cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s or because of long-term effects from strokes.
Again, although the care may be necessary, it usually isn’t covered by Medicare. You may want to explore other planning options, such as long-term care insurance or developing a care plan with your children and other loved ones.
Finally, it’s possible that you may face health challenges that require rehabilitation, either through outpatient sessions or via a stay in a rehab facility. You might require a joint replacement. You could suffer a stroke. You may slip and fall and suffer injuries that limit mobility. Any of these and more could necessitate rehabilitation.
Medicare will often partially cover this expense on a temporary basis if the rehab is tied to a specific in-patient medical procedure. However, if you need extended rehab, don’t consider Medicare to be a permanent coverage option.
If you don’t know how you will cover these costs, now is the time to think about it. The earlier you start the planning process, the more options you may have. Contact us at Carstens Financial Group in Arnolds Park, Iowa. We can help you examine your health care funding risks and develop a strategy. Let’s connect soon and discuss your options.
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