When you're preparing for retirement, healthcare expenses are probably one of the last things on your mind. But retirees can end up spending tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars on healthcare alone during their golden years, making it one of the most crucial costs to prepare for.
The average retiree spends around $4,300 per year on out-of-pocket healthcare costs, according to a study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, and that doesn't include long-term care. Medicare will help cover some costs, but coverage is far from free, and you'll still face some out-of-pocket expenses.
Health insurance in retirement is widely misunderstood, which can be an expensive problem. Seventy-two percent of adults over the age of 50 admit they don't fully understand how Medicare works, a survey from the Nationwide Retirement Institute found, and more than half believe that coverage is free. In order to avoid any pricey surprises, it's important to understand which costs you're responsible for, what your insurance will cover, and how much coverage will cost.
What's the magic number for retirement?: $1.7 million, according to this study
Your health insurance options in retirement
Once you turn 65 years old, you become eligible for Medicare – but enrolling in coverage isn't as simple as it may seem. There are different types of Medicare coverage available, depending on your specific healthcare needs.
Original Medicare includes Part A and Part B coverage. Part A covers trips to the hospital and other types of emergency care, while Part B covers doctor visits and some other preventative services. Prescription drug coverage isn't covered within Parts A or B, so you'll need to enroll in separate Part D coverage for help with this type of care.
Also, routine care – such as dental and vision care – isn't typically covered under Original Medicare, so you'll need to foot the bill for those costs. Keep in mind that if you have a dental or vision emergency, Medicare typically will cover those expenses. But for routine teeth cleanings, eye exams, etc., those will need to be paid for out-of-pocket.
For more expansive care, you can instead opt for a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans are similar to the type of insurance you likely have through an employer, in that they typically cover everything from hospital visits to prescription drugs to routine care. The downside, then, is that this type of coverage is often more expensive than Original Medicare.
The costs of healthcare coverage
No matter which type of coverage you choose, you'll still be responsible for all premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. For the lowest monthly payment, you can choose to go with Original Medicare – but you'll face higher out-of-pocket expenses. With an Advantage plan, you'll likely have higher premiums, but greater coverage and fewer out-of-pocket costs.
Most people won't pay a premium for Part A coverage as long as you've paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years, but you will have a deductible of $1,364 per benefit period – which begins when you're admitted to a hospital and ends 60 days after you leave the hospital. Then with Part B coverage, the standard premium is $135.50 per month, but it may be higher depending on your income. Part B also has a deductible, though it's just $185 per year.
If you also enroll in Part D coverage, that will be an additional cost. This type of insurance is offered through private, Medicare-approved providers, so prices will vary based on your individual plan, but the maximum deductible for 2019 is $415 per year.
Medicare Advantage plans are also offered through third-party insurance companies, so rates can vary widely based on your location, the provider, and the amount of coverage you're receiving. But you'll typically still have to pay a premium, usually along with the standard Part B premium as well.
Because prices differ based on the plan, be sure to shop around for the best rates if you choose an Advantage plan. Some plans offer low or even $0 premiums, but you may be stuck with a high deductible or less-than-ideal coverage. Or other plans may charge higher premiums, but you might have more coverage and a lower out-of-pocket maximum. Consider what your healthcare needs may look like in retirement, then choose the option that will provide the most bang for your buck.
Health insurance can be confusing, particularly in retirement. Medicare can be a lifesaver, but choose the wrong type of plan for your needs, and you could end up paying thousands more than you need to. Do your homework beforehand about your insurance options and what they'll cost, though, and you'll ensure you're as prepared as possible for these expenses in retirement.
If you would like to be better prepared in your retirement when it comes to health insurance coverage, click here to contact the insurance professionals at USA Mutual Insurance.
If you're planning a home renovation, you may want to call your insurance agent first because this decision can impact your homeowners insurance. Some home renovations will change the amount of coverage you need, while others could even help you qualify for a discount. We cover six common scenarios that could affect your insurance, so you can plan ahead.
1. Building a New Addition
When you expand and improve your home, you could likely increase its replacement value. This is the cost to repair or rebuild your home. Some additions that could increase your replacement value include: adding a second-story bedroom, expanding the living room or building a new garage.
After building a new addition, or making updates or other improvements, you may need to increase your coverage because the value of your home, and the cost to rebuild it will likely have increased. Most insurance companies require your Coverage A or dwelling coverage limit be at least 80 percent of the replacement value of your home.
Your insurance agent can recalculate your home value to determine whether you'll need more coverage because of the addition or improvement.
2. Building a Pool
If you're looking to add a pool, you will want to contact your insurance agent to review coverage for changes to your property's value, as well as any increase in risk. When people are swimming and running around the pool, there's the chance for an accident. If someone gets hurt, they could try to hold you responsible for damages. This can apply even if the accident isn't your fault.
Check with your agent to see whether your existing policy covers a pool and if you need to increase your liability coverage. This coverage can help pay damages to injured persons and provide for a defense if you are sued as a result of their injuries.
You should also ask your agent what steps you can take to keep your pool safe so you can avoid accidents. Adding a fence with a lock is a smart move. You could also add lights with motion sensors or a pool alarm to discourage trespassers. Consider skipping the diving board, because this increases the chance of an accident and your insurance cost.
Travelers wants to help you protect the things that matter to you. We offer a wide breadth of products so you can be covered at home and on the road.
3. Adding a Deck
A new deck is another improvement that can add value but also risk, especially if the deck is attached to a second story or higher. You should let your agent know that you've added a deck, so he or she can adjust your policy as necessary.
4. Renovating the Kitchen
Upgrading the kitchen can significantly increase the value of your home, especially if you switch to higher-quality counter tops, appliances and new flooring. You should contact your agent to see if you need to increase your insurance coverage.
If your contractor upgrades the plumbing or electrical wiring as part of the renovation, ask your homeowners insurance agent if you qualify for a discount or if your coverage needs to be adjusted. These upgrades can reduce the chance of flooding water damage and fire, so check if your insurance company has discounts that can help to reduce your premium.
5. Finishing the Basement
Finishing your basement can also increase the value of your home. That means, yet again, you may need more homeowners coverage. Flooding can be a concern, especially for the lowest floor in your house. It is important to note that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by floods. Ask your agent to review your coverage and look to see if there are steps you can take to help prevent future damage, like installing a sump pump.
6. Redoing the Roof
Before you redo your roof, ask your insurance agent whether this could qualify for a discount. Some companies offer a discount when you reinforce the roof or use stronger roofing materials that are wind, hail and leak-resistant. Your agent can explain how to qualify. At the same time, redoing the roof could increase your property value, which means you might need more coverage.
It is a good idea to contact your agent when you’re considering making home renovations. Their knowledge and expertise can help you get the most out of your discounts while making sure your home is adequately insured.
Are you making any home improvements this year? Don't forget to contact your agent to see how these revocations may affect your homeowners insurance policy. If you are not sure, click here to speak with one of our insurance professionals.