By: Manoj Pawar, Chief Medical Officer, Mutual of Omaha
Medicare is one of the most successful programs ever instituted by the federal government. You paid into it for years, so you deserve to reap its many benefits. However, it’s important to understand what Medicare does not cover so you can plan for those gaps and hidden costs.
Many people choose to cover the gaps with additional coverage from Medicare Advantage. These private insurance programs coordinate with Medicare to offer coverage above what you can get with Original Medicare alone. Understanding these Medicare basics can help inform the coverage option that best fits your needs.
Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything. Original Medicare, or Parts A and B, is limited to hospital insurance and medical insurance. This covers around 80 percent of your medical costs – leaving the other 20 percent up to you – and Medicare does not have a cap on out-of-pocket expenses. These costs can add up quickly, especially for chronic or long-term illnesses. Selecting coverage that offers maximum out-of-pocket protection can provide the financial peace of mind you need.
Good prescription drug coverage is important. Original Medicare offers no prescription, or Part D, coverage. Yet prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are major components of the overall cost of healthcare. Look for health plans that provide cost-saving benefits like no prescription deductibles and no copays on generic drugs. Some plans even offer allowances for over-the-counter (OTC) purchases, which can help offset the costs for OTC medications and everyday items like bandages.
Dental, vision, and hearing coverage are often extra. Many people don’t realize that Original Medicare offers no coverage for extra benefits like dental, vision, and hearing services. Because one dentist visit alone can cost hundreds of dollars, consider Medicare options that offer you that extra protection.
Armed with this knowledge, and followed up by some basic research, you will feel more confident making a Medicare coverage decision that provides the benefits you need and protects your hard-earned savings.