Thinking about retirement? Do your health care coverage homework now

When you think about retiring, do you picture sleeping in? About no longer having to get up at 6 a.m. and braving icy roads to get to work on time? Are your thoughts filled with plans for more time with grandchildren, travel and maybe the occasional afternoon nap?

Changing your health insurance  probably won't cross your mind until the letters and emails start coming with all kinds of coverage options around your 64th birthday. Turning a certain age doesn't mean you automatically have to retire – but if you're considering it, here are a few things to think about.

Can you continue on your employer-sponsored health insurance after retirement? Or will you be added to your working spouse's insurance plan? If no is your answer to those questions you will need to enroll in the federal government's Medicare program and find the best Medicare Supplemental option for you.

Medicare is a basic health insurance program from the federal government for people who are 65 or older. It's made up of these parts:

>> Part A covers hospital stays, care in a nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.

>> Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.

>> Part D adds prescription drug coverage.

Medicare does not cover all medical costs like long-term care, dental care, eye examinations for glasses, dentures, cosmetic surgery and hearing aids. And even if Medicare covers a service, you will likely pay a deductible, coinsurance and copays.

Many retirees enroll in Medicare Supplement insurance to cover the gaps.

Medicare Supplement plans are standardized, meaning that the "Plan G" Medicare Supplement offered by one company will pay the same benefits as the "Plan G" Medicare Supplement offered by another company. The only differences will be in the premium charged by each company and any "value added" programs and services the company might offer to their customers. Examples could include discount program for vision and hearing and gym memberships.

The premiums many companies charge for Medicare Supplement are based on the person's age, which means that the cost of your coverage increases as you get older.

In addition, most retirees have their supplemental insurance or Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security checks. Be aware as health care costs continue to rise, premiums will take a bigger bite out of those checks.

If you are just starting to think about retirement you are not alone. There are 10,000 other Americans doing the same thing. Working with a trusted advisor will help you compare plans, companies and prices. You can work with your insurance agent or broker or you can contact us. Our website offers resources, tools and information to help you you're your decision. We're always here to help.

HEALTH INSURANCE TERMS


COINSURANCE

The percentage of the bill you pay after your deductible has been met.

COPAY

A fixed amount you pay when you get a covered health service.

Tiered benefit plan

A health care plan featuring multiple levels of benefits based on the network status of a particular provider. 

DEDUCTIBLE

The annual amount you pay for covered health services before your insurance begins to pay.

emergency care services

Any covered services received in a hospital emergency room setting.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDER SERVICES

Includes behavioral health treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy


in-network provider

A provider contracted by your insurance company to accept an agreed upon payment for covered services. 

OUT-OF-network provider

A term for providers that aren’t contracting with your insurance company. (Your out-of-pocket costs will tend to be more expensive if you go to an out-of-network provider.)

out-of-pocket

Your expenses for medical care that aren’t reimbursed by insurance, including deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments.

penalty

If you can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy it, you must have a health coverage exemption or pay a tax penalty on your federal income tax return.

premium

The amount you pay to your health insurance company each month. 


Preventive services

Health care services that focus on the prevention of disease and health maintenance.

rehab SERVICES

Services and devices to help you recover if you are injured or have surgery. This includes physical, occupational and speech therapy.

special enrollment period

The time after the Open Enrollment Period when you can still purchase health insurance only if you have a qualifying life event (losing other health coverage, having a baby, getting married, moving).

specialist

A physician who has a majority of his or her practice in fields other than internal or general medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics or family practice.