Health Insurance for Seniors

Growing older certainly may come with its perks! You probably have more free time to spend on the things you were too busy with before, whether spending time with your loved ones or throwing yourself into time-consuming hobbies. It’s easy to get caught up in your new-found freedom and carefree lifestyle and forget about the not-so-fun stuff, like taking steps to make sure you can take care of your health.

If you’ve never had health insurance before, either because you couldn’t afford it or didn’t think you needed it, it may become necessary in your later years. The reality is as you get older, you are more likely to develop health problems, and having health insurance may help you with these issues to live more comfortably.

Or maybe you had health insurance through the company you worked for and were taken off the plan when you retired. Either way, it could be beneficial to have health insurance as a senior to ease some of the financial burdens that come with health issues you may face as you age.

There are a variety of health insurance policies offered by different insurance companies, so it’s helpful to spend some time comparing offerings and narrowing down the ones you think are a good fit for you.

When reviewing plans and trying to decide on one that suits you, there are some things you should consider.

Plan Type

It’s helpful to start by deciding the type of plan you should get. Health insurance is available in two primary categories: private and public.

The government funds public health insurance to make medical care accessible to people who can’t afford private health insurance. Low-income seniors under sixty-five may qualify for Medicaid, while those over sixty-five may join a Medicare plan.

Private health insurance may be more expensive, but it’s worth buying if you have the means. Your private health insurance typically pays for vaccines, tests, screenings, annual checks, and other preventative measures. These might be valuable benefits for seniors who may face a higher risk of developing medical problems that may be easier to manage if caught early.

Also, you can usually customize private health insurance plans to meet your individual medical needs.

Additional Coverage

Once you’ve decided on a plan type that suits you, you may want to consider buying additional coverage. It’s advisable to buy additional coverage like Medigap or Medicare Advantage plans. Like health insurance, there are options within these plans, so it’s helpful to shop around to find which plan best suits your needs.

For example, some Medigap plans may pay your deductible or co-payment, or your Medicare Advantage plan may cover the costs of your vision care.

Waiting Periods

Several health insurance companies impose waiting periods on patients who have pre-existing conditions. This means that they have a medical condition before joining the plan. Waiting periods can be anywhere between one to four years, depending on the policy, so if you were diagnosed with a pre-existing condition, you might have to pay any medical bills related to the condition during the waiting period.

Common health problems that may be subject to a waiting period include heart problems, diabetes, and respiratory issues. Often, the problems subject to waiting periods are serious, and you can’t put off seeking medical treatment for them. If you have one of these health issues, it’s advisable to look for a health insurance plan that doesn’t impose a waiting period for your condition or that comes with a shorter waiting period.

Healthcare Network

Some healthcare insurance plans may only pay for medical bills if you visit a healthcare provider in their network. When deciding on a plan, ensure that it covers doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers that are convenient for you to visit.

If you plan on traveling, selecting a plan with a vast network of healthcare providers in the areas you plan on visiting could be a good idea. This way, if you need medical attention in an area that’s not your hometown, you are more likely to be covered.

While it could be cheaper to opt for a plan with a smaller network, it may be a risk. If you have a medical emergency and the closest healthcare providers are not part of your insurance plan’s network, you may be liable for the medical bills.

Added Benefits

Before buying health insurance, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the additional perks and benefits they may offer. Many insurance companies provide added benefits to their policies to encourage you to be healthy.

Depending on the policy, you may be able to join a wellness program or gym at a discounted rate. Other benefits may include free transport to medical appointments or counseling services.

While these benefits are marketed as free, it’s worth choosing a plan that includes perks you are likely to use. This way, you get more for the money you spend on the policy. If you’re sure the added benefits are not for you, it may make sense to look for a cheaper plan without these added benefits.

Final Thoughts

Health insurance as a senior may be essential since it might lower the financial burdens of falling ill or developing a severe medical condition. Before buying a policy, it’s a good idea to review your options, consider your needs and lifestyle, and then select a plan that suits you.