Costly gaps in Medicare coverage Parts A and B can send even the savviest savers scrambling without the proper insurance. How can smart seniors save their hard-earned money? This it no simple fight for affordable healthcare, but potentially a fight for the lives of the elderly throughout Georgia. In Columbus, there are different challenges in finding the best coverage.
Senior Medicare in Columbus: Facts and Figures
- There are 24,464 senior citizens living in Columbus right now
- There 9 hospitals in the Columbus area where seniors can get emergency and/or in-patient care
- 34% of Georgia seniors have a Medicare Advantage plan
- 20% of seniors have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan
- Which leaves 46% of seniors potentially uninsured or underinsured against costly Medicare coverage gaps!
Aging unfortunately means becoming more vulnerable to certain types of disease. It happens to us all. Worse, most of these diseases are chronic and require lifelong treatment. This makes medical costs raise even more. Also, it is possible to have more than one of these diseases at once, compounding medical expenses. The chart below shows the most common chronic diseases affecting seniors in Columbus today:
|Disease||Prevalence (in Columbus)|
|High Blood Pressure||40%|
|Coronary Heart Disease||7%|
Healthcare Costs in Columbus, GA
We can’t simply examine prevalence without talking about the cost factor of these diseases. Medical drugs, necessary testing equipment, hospital stays, at-home assistance, and scheduled doctor visits all have costs which culminate faster than you can imagine. Every cost associated with the medical field continues to rise every year. With seniors living longer lives, the potential costs for care until end-of-life can get chillingly expensive really quickly. It is imperative that you have the right coverage going into the next stage of life in order to protect your family, yourself, and your future too.
|Disease||Prevalence (in Columbus)||Annual Cost of Treatment|
|High Blood Pressure||40%||$354|
|Coronary Heart Disease||7%||$8,888|
Medicare Advantage Savings in Columbus, GA
Medicare Advantage plans are not government offered, but they are government approved. This means that Medicare Advantage is its own form of private insurance, but it is approved to sell to those who are already eligible for Medicare. Rather than paying for your premium directly, the government pays a share directly to Medicare Advantage, and then patients pay the remainder as their premium. The law necessitates that Medicare Advantage plans must offer at minimum the coverages that a traditional Medicare plan offers, but they often go much further than the basics.
Medicare Advantage plans can offer more expansive coverage options for the chronic ailments common to seniors. Diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and the like, are usually persuasive and often endure to the end-of-life. Testing equipment, prescriptions, extra doctor visits; all of these culminate faster than you would expect, resulting in a much higher bill than expected. This is one of the ways in which a Medicare Advantage plan can be safer than just Medicare alone. As these conditions get worse, your costs pile up. Even if you have Part D, you can have more coverage options and potentially save money with Medicare Advantage. But you must start budgeting now for the cost.
Medicare Advantage plans can also include a cost effective drug plan. Doctor appointments, medical equipment, and an economical prescription cost are all options for many Medicare Advantage plans. There are even choices to include dental or vision benefits as an extra incentive. The government then subsidizes the funds to Medicare Advantage, meaning that the only premium you pay is the left over cost. In some cases, this could be as little as $0 a month! Copays and coinsurance will always be the cost of the insured. As with all insurance policies, there are some expenses that are not covered.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Savings in Columbus, GA
There are other Medicare gap coverage policies as well. As an example: Medicare Supplement Insurance policies would be Medigap policies. They function a little differently than Medicare Advantage, but can still save plenty of money, especially for gaps in Part A. Chronic conditions very often rack up bills in the five digits and up, just for one treatment. After a few days in the hospital, Medicare stops coverage, and you are responsible for paying for the rest of the hospital stay, however long that might be. These bills are often astronomical, and usually make an already troubling diagnosis that much scarier.
Currently there are four Medigap plans intended to cover holes in Medicare Part A. These are plans A, D, K, and L. Medigap does offer an additional set of plans that cover gaps in Medicare Part B as well. Those we will discuss below the chart. However, if you think you won’t need any additional coverage for Part B, then you may want to consider a plan without it. There is no need to pay for coverage you don’t anticipate needing.
However, if you do want coverage for both Medicare parts A and B, then you want to look into Medigap plans B, C, F, G, M, and N. These plans are designed to cover gaps in Medicare Part A and varying aspects of Part B. The more comprehensive coverage your plan includes, the more you can anticipate your premium will be. But, this means less out-of-pocket costs too. Plan F is retiring and will not be available after the year 2020 for new Medicare enrollees, so you need to plan accordingly if you want the most comprehensive coverage.
Medicare part B plans are intended to cover the aspects of health and medical insurance that Part A does not. These usually include outpatient procedures, doctor and specialist visits, and some pieces of medical testing equipment. Co-pays, coinsurance, and any leftover premium for Medicare part B can be hard to come up with, however. Fortunately there are options to reduce this and keep expenses from getting overwhelming.
Medigap does not offer any coverage for prescriptions, dental, or vision, unlike Medicare Advantage. But Medicare has Part D available, which is for purchasing prescriptions. Part D is purchasable by anyone eligible for Medicare, regardless of if they have another Medicare plan as their main coverage. Also, there are plenty of alternative plans for dental and vision in Columbus, which can be found through a simple Google search.
For Columbus elders, having affordable healthcare is imperative to living a comfortable life, as well as protecting any possible savings. Medical premiums only continue going up over time, and it is far beyond anyone’s control. But what we can have control over is the way in which we prepare. You need to get a Medicare supplement plan that will cover what you need when you need it, and keep you safe from dangerous insurance gaps. We can help make that happen right now.
|Medigap Plan||Minimum Monthly Premium||Maximum Monthly Premium||Average Estimated Monthly Premium (Part B Premium Included)|