Senior Citizen Health Insurance – Can You Afford Not to Have it?

 Are you confused by the many, and growing, options and requirements of senior citizen health insurance?

If your answer is "yes" then you are not alone.

However, as complicated and expensive as it is health insurance should be a vital element of your retirement planning.

No matter how avidly you take care of your health, there are always those unexpected circumstances that can land you in hospital. If you are not prepared and you do not have enough health insurance coverage, this can cripple your savings and your retirement.

So considering the potential crippling downside risk it is important that you choose the best health insurance plan that you can afford.

As you grow older, your health becomes more of an issue; you may visit the doctor more, need to fill more prescriptions, or even receive in-home care. So in your retirement planning before you retire, include  health insurance and ensure that you are prepared for the worst.

First, check out all the senior citizen health insurance options that you have.

Health insurance plans: private and government 

The private health insurance is personally signed-up for by an individual. You may also have a company health insurance plan where you are employed. The company providing you with coverage as part of your employee benefits.

The health insurance coverage provided by the government may be offered on a local, state or national level. Medicare is an example of a health insurance plan offered on a national level.

Medicare benefits are available for people who are over 65 years of age, and to persons with disabilities.

In addition in the US there are a number of other government-initiated health insurance programs include: Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, health care benefits for the veterans and military, as well as eligible American Indians.

Understand what you are buying

Make sure that you at least understand the important parts, like terms of your policies such as deductible, co-payments, self payment gaps and pre-existing conditions. 

Read the coverage information and check the sections stating the exclusions. Beware of signing up for cheap insurance which has a long list of exclusions that wouldn't cover much of anything.

Use as many ways as possible to find out about senior citizen health insurance so that you are as knowledgeable as possible. Talk to a health insurance company who can give you explanations with examples. Internet forums are also a great place to go when you have any questions regarding health insurance.

In planning your health insurance coverage see if your employer offers insurance coverage after you retire. If they do, you should certainly consider it.

Benefits of private plans

With private coverage, you will receive better health care but at a higher cost. As a retiree, you will certainly have a health insurance expense, and you will have to decide if the cost of your employer's insurance is acceptable.

Look at the plan, the deductibles, and the coverage. Many near-retirees believe that their state medical scheme (for example Medicare) will cover their medical payments, but this is not always the case.

If your employer does not offer coverage, state medical schemes will be an important and integral part of your senior citizen health insurance plan.

State sponsored systems often work in the same way as traditional health insurance plans. In that over time you make contributions from your earnings into the plan.

However, programs like Medicare do not cover a number of items that are typical of health insurance. Also there will be increasing pressure on governments to increase and extend benefits and they will be making ongoing changes.

State sponsored health plans

The problem with relying on state sponsored schemes is that they are highly politicised and will change over time. As the population of older people grows and their demands on the health service increases there will be the big question of affordability.

So to massage the system they use programs like a Medigap coverage, which helps fill in the gaps in senior citizen health insurance that Medicare leaves.

Beyond Medicare and Medigap, there are also long-term care insurance plans. Often advertised on television at very low prices. These plans can help cover the costs of a nursing home or home health care.

With so many different options and limitations if you want to sign-up for a private health insurance plan, learn everything that you need to know about the coverage stipulated on your contract.

More importantly, make sure that you have a copy of every contract that you sign. See to it that your personal information is correct and make a note of the coverage period.

All in all, try to make sure that you have enough health insurance coverage for whenever you need it.

If you are retiring soon, you should take a serious look at your budget and balance what you can afford for your senior citizen health insurance with what sort of coverage you feel you might need.

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