Best Senior Healthcare Plans of 2021
Taking care of your health is always important, but it becomes much harder with age. Seniors are considered higher risk for many medical conditions, both physical and mental. Cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, diabetes and dementia are all common ailments for seniors. Your immune system also becomes weaker with age, which makes it harder to recover when you do get sick. One of the best ways to take care of yourself as you age is getting a good healthcare plan.
Because they are considered higher risk for so many ailments, seniors have access to some of the best insurance plans. Another difference with senior insurance plans is the cost. The majority of seniors are retired and have minimal income. Many senior healthcare plans are built for lower-income individuals, ensuring everyone has access to quality coverage. More information about picking a top senior healthcare plan for 2020 is covered below.
Medicare is one of the largest insurance programs available to seniors. In 2020, nearly 15 percent of seniors were enrolled in some form of Medicare coverage. While Medicare offers extensive coverage, there is sometimes confusion with exactly what services are available. Some of the confusion is caused by the separate Medicare plans. Medicare is divided into four primary categories, Parts A-D. Each part provides different coverage. There is some overlap with certain parts of Medicare. Parts A and B both come from the federal government, so the eligibility and application process is largely the same. Other Medicare plans come from private insurance agencies. These agencies must follow federal guidelines, but have more flexibility in determining what the plans offer as well as costs and eligibility.
Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care, as well as expenses for nursing facilities or retiring in an assisted living community. Some hospice care is also covered under Part A. General health services, such as yearly screenings and your doctor visits are all covered by Part A as well.
The best part about Medicare Part A is the eligibility and cost. Like all Medicare plans, you must be at least 65 years of age to qualify. If you paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years or collect either Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits, you are eligible for free coverage. Because of this, the majority of seniors have Part A coverage.
Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B shares some overlap with Part A, covering basic health services, but there is a greater emphasis placed on preventative care and outpatient services. Any tests or X-rays you need are typically covered by Part B. Because Medicare Part B is a federal plan, it has set premiums and deductible, though there are payment assistance programs available for lower-income seniors. As of writing, the 2020 monthly premium for Part B is $144.60, and the deductible is $198.00.
Medicare Part C
Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage. Part C is a customizable plan, offering the benefits from both Part A and B. The main difference is Part C comes from private insurance companies. Seniors have a better chance to tailor their healthcare plan, which can help save money on services they do not need from the other parts of Medicare. The exact level of coverage, as well as premiums and deductibles are determined by whichever insurance company you pick.
Medicare Part D
The final part of Medicare is Part D. Part D is a specialized program, only focused on prescription drug costs. Part D uses a coverage gap, which is similar to a deductible. Until you hit your coverage gap, you are responsible for paying out of pocket. Once you hit the coverage gap, which is $4,020 for 2020, your coverage begins and you only pay 25 percent of the costs. There is an additional gap at $6,350. After this point, you only pay 5 percent for prescription medication. Because it offers limited coverage compared to other healthcare plans, Part D normally costs $30 each month. Some insurance agencies provide Part D coverage for free as part of other healthcare plans.
In addition to the basic Medicare plans, seniors also have access to supplemental insurance plans, informally known as Medigap. Medigap plans are only available if you have either Parts A or B. Medigap plans offer limited insurance, but it provides coverage for services either not offered through Parts A and B, or it provides greater coverage for certain areas, such as hospital stays or nursing facility costs.
Medicaid is another healthcare program available to seniors. Medicaid offers many of the same services as Medicare, but it is not divided into separate categories. Medicaid is a needs-based program, intended for lower-income seniors who cannot afford other insurance plans. If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income, you are also eligible for Medicaid coverage.
The main eligibility requirement for Medicaid is your modified gross income. Your total income is compared against the poverty levels for your state. If you fall below a certain threshold, you are eligible for coverage. The financial requirement is sometimes waived based on your health needs as well.
Private Senior Insurance
If you are not happy with Medicare or Medicaid, you can search for private insurance plans. The availability and coverage for private insurance greatly depends on the state you live. The costs also vary with location, as well as your medical history. You can search for private insurance plans through your state insurance marketplace or by contacting an independent agent.