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Do not rely on Medicare to cover these 4 things – The Motley Fool



Most retirees rely on Medicare once they reach the age of 65 to cover their healthcare costs. The government-sponsored program provides coverage for doctor visits, hospitalization, lab tests, prescription drugs and more. However, some people are unaware that Medicare covers only a few healthcare costs, and there are some expenses that it does not cover at all. If you are unwilling to pay these costs yourself, you could be in serious trouble.

In the following, I will discuss four of the most common healthcare expenditures that Medicare does not take, as well as ways you can prepare so you do not have to choose between your health and your financial independence.

  Doctor talking to an elderly male patient

Source: Getty Images.

. 1
Dental Care

Unfortunately, Medicare does not pay for dental cleaning, dentures, fillings or other dental work. Retirees have to pay for their dental visits exclusively out of their own pocket, unless they have additional insurance that covers them.

Some Medicare Advantage plans – issued by private health insurers – include some dental coverage, or you could purchase a Medigap policy. These are also issued by private insurers and specifically cover healthcare expenditures that Medicare does not cover. If you buy one of these policies, it has its own deductible, bonuses, and its own back payment. This will increase your monthly health costs, but hopefully should reduce the amount you pay out of pocket if you need to go to the dentist.

Another alternative is registration in a dental savings plan. This is not insurance but can lower your dental care costs. You pay a monthly enrollment fee and in return get access to lower negotiated fees for your dental work.

If you have a savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), you can use the funds in them to pay for dental care as well. These accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax revenue. As long as you spend the money on a legitimate medical issue, you will not pay taxes if you withdraw it. In combination with a dental plan or additional insurance you can save even more.

. 2 Eye Care

Medicare Part B covers some preventive and diagnostic eye exams, including glaucoma and macular degeneration tests, and routine eye exams for diabetics. And if you need a cataract surgery, Medicare will do it as well as the cost of any vision correction products you need after surgery. However, you must pay your deductible and a 20% surcharge, unless you have supplementary insurance covering these benefits.

However, if you are a healthy person in need of glasses or contact lenses, all vision services will be reimbursed. including eye exams, glasses and contact lenses.

Some Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for routine eye exams and other visual aids. Because this is not usually the case with Medigap policies, you need to develop a vision savings plan to reduce your outlay costs. This is worth considering if you know that you will have vision costs in retirement. However, if you have good eyesight, you may not need to spend extra money on vision care.

. 3 Hearing aids

One of the most surprising omissions in the list of things Original Medicare treats are hearing aids. You pay 100% of your expenses for hearing aids, batteries and hearing aid fitting examinations. However, Medicare may pay up to 80% of the cost of a diagnostic hearing exam if your doctor orders it.

The Medicare Advantage plans may cover hearing aids, depending on which plan you choose. However, you still have to pay deductibles and possibly in addition to your monthly premiums. There are also charities that provide free hearing aids to low-income individuals.

. 4 Long term care

If you are physically or mentally unable to take care of yourself, you may need to hire someone to look after you or move you to a nursing home. A semi-private nursing home room averaged $ 225 a day, according to the latest statistics from the US Department of Health in 2016, and your costs could be much higher if you live in an expensive area.

] Since Medicare does not pay for any of these costs, you should invest in long-term care insurance. These specifically cover the cost of long-term care, but are not cheap. According to LifePlans, premiums can average more than $ 2,700 per year.

If you can not afford to pay so much for a policy, save as much as you can in an HSA if you qualify for it. To qualify for an HSA, you must have a high deductible health plan – one with a deductible of at least $ 1,350 for a single adult or $ 2,700 for a family. In 2019, individuals can contribute up to $ 3,500 for HSAs and families up to $ 7,000. People over the age of 55 can contribute an additional $ 1,000. These contributions reduce your taxable income and the funds in these accounts can be deducted tax-free to cover the cost of long-term care.

Nobody can predict what kind of medical expenses you will incur when retired. You need at least one of the services listed above. Your present planning can help to relieve the finances later.


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