There are tens of millions of senior citizens living in America. People are living longer and maintaining good health well into their twilight years. There is no denying that at some point, our bodies begin to deteriorate. Even seniors who maintain stellar health have a greater risk of health problems than the average 20-year-old.
Due to the increase in instances of health concerns, as well as growing risks for injury and illness, seniors need specialized healthcare and health insurance. With proper preventive care and access to needed services, many seniors live longer, healthier, happier lives. Insurance plays a major role in ensuring this turn of events.
Unfortunately, money is a concern after the age of retirement. With a fixed income based on retirement and investment accounts, it is important that seniors be cautious about how they spend their money to make sure that it lasts for the rest of their lives. Health insurance can take a big chunk out of the monthly budget.
The good news is that there are plenty of options for seniors to consider when it comes to finding quality health coverage at affordable prices. There are also many resources to help low-income seniors get the coverage and care they need.
Whether you are a recent retiree looking to switch to a more affordable plan or you have serious medical concerns and an extremely tight budget, there are plans available. Here are some of the best health insurance options for senior citizens.
Not every senior citizen is going to retire at the age of 65. Some will continue to work well into their senior years. This is thanks to vigor, excellent health, and longer life spans, not to mention jobs that are less physically demanding.
If this is the case, seniors may opt to continue partaking of their employer-sponsored health plans, especially if the coverage is excellent and the employee premiums are relatively low. There is no reason for switching to a plan specifically for seniors if you are happy with your current situation.
Health Insurance Marketplace
In the event that you happen to retire or lose your job prior to turning 65, the health insurance marketplace (your state health exchange) is a good option for finding affordable coverage. All you have to do is fill out the application to see which plans and pricing you qualify for.
If your reason for seeking insurance through the marketplace is job-loss, you qualify for special enrollment. That means you can enroll in a health coverage plan even if you have missed the open enrollment window. This generally occurs between the beginning of November of one year and the end of January of the following year. Depending on the state you live in, your household income, and other factors, you may qualify for Medicaid when you apply through the health insurance marketplace.
COBRA coverage may also be an option. For several months following job-loss, it allows continuation with the group plan you held at your place of employment. If your COBRA runs out before open enrollment, you also qualify for a special enrollment period. Explore your options to find the best coverage at the most affordable price.
Generally speaking, this is not the best option, especially for senior citizens working with a fixed income and trying to reduce expenses after retirement. However, if your income is great enough that you do not qualify for assistance of some sort through the health insurance marketplace, and you have not yet reached the age of 65, look into the prospect of private health insurance.
In most cases, private insurance is going to come with the greatest cost for coverage. The upside of comparison shopping is that you find a plan tailored to your needs. However, you are almost certainly going to pay the price for specialized insurance.
You will also have to make sure that any plan you choose meets the standards for minimum essential coverage as mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. All of the plans provided through the health insurance marketplace meet these standards. However, the burden is on you to comply with the law when selecting coverage outside the health insurance marketplace.
This is why it is advisable to obtain health coverage through the marketplace. Unless you have highly specialized healthcare needs or you fail to qualify for cost assistance, there is no real reason to shop outside the marketplace.
This is almost certainly the best option for anyone over the age of 65. You may also qualify for Medicare coverage under the age of 65 in special circumstances, such as disability or serious health conditions.
Medicare is specially designed to meet the healthcare needs of senior citizens, including access to quality care at affordable cost. It breaks up into four parts (A, B, C, and D).
- Medicare Part A: This includes hospital insurance and home healthcare. It is free to senior citizens who have worked for at least 10 years and paid social security tax during that time.
- Part B: This medical insurance comes with a premium and deductible for services such as check-ups and testing (x-rays, etc.). That said, the cost is minimal, averaging just over $100 for the annual premium, and just under $150 for the deductible as of 2015.
- Part C: This is also known as Medicare Advantage. It is only eligible to those enrolled in A and B. It offers an upgrading option to private insurance for better coverage. However, this coverage comes at a slightly higher cost, dependent upon your state of residence and available private providers.
- Part D: This covers prescription drugs at a monthly premium. It is useful for anyone taking one or more medications regularly.
As noted above, signing up for coverage through the health insurance marketplace determines eligibility. Medicaid is often paired with Medicare. It is helpful as a secondary option for services not covered by Medicare.
Medicaid is for low-income individuals and families. Medicate coverage eligibility is for at any age under the right circumstances. Funding and benefits for Medicaid vary by state, depending upon how much the state elects to contribute to the program.