Health Insurance Options for the Elderly

When it comes to the health insurance needs of elderly Americans, some folks believe that Medicare is fully sufficient coverage and that no more thought needs to be given to the matter. Sadly, for many older individuals this coverage fails to substantially meet their varied medical coverage needs and additional coverage is in order.

Medicare coverage is available to those that are age 65 or older and may include hospital coverage, physician coverage and/or drug coverage. The level of benefits and coverage plan that the senior receives is dependent on the “part” that they have enrolled in. Medicare is by no means a free ride for seniors and, in fact, carries a premium expense as well as a coinsurance obligation. For those on a tight or fixed budget, these fees can prove to be overwhelming.

Medicare also does not cover all medical related services. Some services that Medicare does not cover 100% include:

•    Durable Medical Equipment
•    Medical expenses incurred during foreign travel
•    Blood transfusions
•    Dental care
•    Vision care
•    Hearing Aids
•    Preventative medical testing

Because of these gaps in coverage, more than 60% of Medicare enrollees find that the plan(s) do not completely cover their medical expenses and opt for supplementary coverage.

These supplemental plans are frequently referred to as Medigap plans. These plans must adhere to both state and federal laws and regulations concerning health insurance. While the premiums that the enrollee pays for a Medigap plan is in addition to their Medicare premium, most find that the benefits they reap are well worth the additional cost. There are twelve different styles of Medigap plans (labeled A-L) and the labeling is dependent on the cocktail of benefits offered by the various plans. Further, the Medigap programs are administered by private insurance companies.

Seniors looking for a policy should consider both premium expense and level of additional coverage when making a plan determination. AARP is one of the more popular supplemental plans and is actually administered by United HealthCare. This plan is so robust that they currently hold 29% of the market-share for Medigap plans. Other popular plans include Wellpoint and Humana.

Most of the Medigap plans have additional services that seniors find very helpful. These include nursing consultation via telephone, disease management programs, prescription drug discount programs and discounts on other health related services such as vitamin supplements or chiropractic services. These services will help senior citizens to better manage any health situation arises and allow them to feel not so alone in the process.

As individuals enter their golden years, their thoughts should rest with golfing, grandchildren, and travel. Making sure that their medical insurance needs are fully covered will provide them with much deserved peace of mind and further allow them to bask in their post-retirement activities.