THE ABC'S OF MEDICARE
Getting ready to retire? If so, you have some big decisions ahead of you, such as when to file for Social Security and how to manage your investment strategy. Perhaps one of your biggest decisions is when to enroll in Medicare and what type of coverage to select.
In its original form, Medicare only covered hospitalizations and limited forms of skilled nursing. Over the years, however, other services and types of coverage have been introduced. Today, Medicare offers a broad menu of insurance options.
You may find it challenging to choose the coverage that’s right for you. After all, you can’t predict your future health needs. How can you be sure which coverage will meet your needs but also not bust your budget?
Below are descriptions of the four main parts of Medicare coverage. If you better understand your options, you can find the protection plan that best aligns with your needs. Your financial professional can also help you develop a health care strategy as part of a comprehensive retirement plan.
Also known as Original Medicare, Part A covers hospitalizations, emergency services, hospice and some forms of skilled nursing care and home health care. Enrollment in Part A is automatic when you file for Social Security. It doesn’t come with a premium, as it is entirely funded by Medicare payroll taxes.
However, Part A does have deductibles and copays.
It’s important to note that the “skilled nursing” aspect of Part A is not the same as long-term care. Part A covers temporary skilled nursing care or home health care that’s directly related to a specific hospitalization or treatment. It doesn’t cover unskilled assistance with things such as eating, bathing and mobility, even if that care is provided in a facility.
Part B covers doctor visits, ambulance transport, medical equipment and a limited menu of prescription drugs. You are automatically enrolled in Part B when you file for Social Security benefits. However, you can opt out of it if you wish. The premium for Part B depends on your income level. While Part B comes with additional expense, it’s a popular option that is chosen by many retirees.
Part C, commonly known as Medicare Advantage, is a unique program in which retirees can buy Medicare policies directly from private insurers. These policies usually offer the same coverage as parts A and B, plus coverage for additional services such as dental, vision and prescription drugs.
There are many different Medicare Advantage plans available, many of which offer flexibility on premiums, deductibles and copays. You may find that a Medicare Advantage plan better fits your budget and your health needs.
Part D is the most recent coverage option to be added to Medicare. It provides enhanced coverage for prescription drugs. Part D is an optional form of coverage, and it comes with a monthly premium. While the added premium may be challenging, it could be worth it if you expect to need prescriptions in retirement.
*This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.
Colorado Transitions Financial Services Expert
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Frank Oliver is the president and founder of Oliver Asset Management, a boutique firm providing customized strategies for retirement income.
Oliver Asset Management specializes in helping retirees and those transitioning into retirement reduce tax burdens and increase income using the four pillars of financial success:
1. Income Planning
2. Tax Planning
3. Asset Protection
4. Legacy Planning