From farms to families, Iowa has it all, but how does it fare in regards to access to healthcare? Surprisingly, not that great. Despite the fact that a sizable majority of Iowa’s seniors have wonderful health insurance, there are still thousands and thousands of people who don’t have such necessities. For the seniors in Des Moines in the latter category, relying on Original Medicare alone might not be enough to cover all of your medical needs. You see, there are certain coverage gaps which could cost you tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket if you neglect to properly supplement your Medicare coverage. Fortunately, there are ways to skirt this all-to-probably financial disaster.

Facts and Figures

  • 25,371 seniors currently live in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • There are 11 hospitals in the Des Moines area where seniors can go to receive emergency and/or in-patient care.
  • 18% of seniors in Iowa have a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • 49% of seniors in Iowa have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan.
  • That leaves 33% of seniors potentially uninsured or underinsured against costly Medicare coverage gaps!

One out of every three seniors in Des Moines lacks proper access to affordable healthcare. For those 8,372 seniors, healthcare options are a luxury that they oftentimes cannot afford without having to sacrifice their independence and go asking their children for help. If you’re like most seniors, the thought of losing your independence fills you with absolute dread, but the problems don’t stop there. The older you get, the more likely you are to develop additional health issues known as age-related illnesses. Age-related illnesses are what doctors and healthcare professionals refer to as any form of disability or disorder that becomes more common with age. The chart below shows how just a mere handful of age-related illnesses are ravishing the senior population in Des Moines.

Disease Prevalence in Des Moines, IA
Arthritis 25%
High Blood Pressure 28%
Coronary Heart Disease 6%
Diabetes 10%
Kidney Disease 3%

Healthcare Costs in Des Moines, IA

As you’re probably well aware by this point in your life, simply having an illness is not the worst part. The thing about age-related illnesses is that the frequency and severity of your existing symptoms increase hand in hand with your risk of developing another illness. Not only does this worsen your quality of life and increase your daily pain and need for treatment, but it also increases the invasiveness of the types of treatments needed, which further increases the costs of healthcare. In a bittersweet turn of events, the increased lifespan that advancements in healthcare technology has afforded to seniors also means that there is more time in your life during which age-related illnesses can develop and compound, potentially driving up your healthcare costs higher than ever before. The chart below shows the annual cost of treatment near the beginning of your diagnosis.

Disease Prevalence in Des Moines, IA Annual Cost of Treatment
Arthritis 25% $291
High Blood Pressure 28% $354
Coronary Heart Disease 6% $9,139
Diabetes 10% $2,163
Kidney Disease 3% $8,371

Medicare Advantage Savings in Des Moines, IA

By replacing your Original Medicare plan with a privately owned and operated Medicare Advantage plan, on the other hand, you can prevent those out-of-pocket expenses that can otherwise be so financially and emotionally debilitating. Whereas Original Medicare can leave you without coverage for some of your most expensive medical needs, Medicare Advantage plans can provide you with permanent, uninterrupted healthcare coverage. Although Medicare Advantage plans completely replace your existing Medicare coverage plan, that does not mean that Medicare Advantage plans will void your coverage. In fact, providers of Medicare Advantage plans are forced by law to provide the same minimum level of benefits and often provide additional benefits at next to no additional prices.

One such additional benefit is the addition of prescription drug coverage to your healthcare armory. These benefits can be as comprehensive or as simplistic as you need, based on what you’re willing to pay (keep in mind that the government will step in and help you out with your premiums, enabling you to receive top-of-the-line quality at low to no prices at all). Typically, these prescription drug plans cover mostly generics, but there are a few on the market that are so comprehensive as to enable no-cost usage of name brand medications. Moreover, these plans can enable seniors with chronic illnesses, such as heart or kidney disease, save thousands upon thousands of dollars in the longer 5- and 10- year terms by covering their medical equipment as well.

There are almost no limits on the level of care that you can receive through Medicare Advantage plans. If you want something covered, you can add it to your plan. Medicare Advantage plans even come with the option to add dental and vision care to your Medicare insurance, which is an option exclusive to Medicare Advantage. Neither Original Medicare nor Medicare Supplement insurance have the option to provide you with dental or vision care, meaning that you would still have to seek outside assistance in order to see your dentist. However, with a Medicare Advantage plan, that is not something that you’ll ordinarily have to worry about.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Savings in Des Moines, IA

As the name suggests, Medicare Supplement insurance (also known as Medigap insurance) plans merely supplement your existing Medicare insurance rather than totally replacing it, meaning that you would actually have two different healthcare providers, one private and one public. This alone sets plans of this type apart from Medicare Advantage plans, but the differences don’t stop there. In general, there are only 10 plan types for Medigap insurance, each one aimed at insuring you against the Medicare coverage gaps and the coverage gaps alone. Those plans then fall into two categories, the first of which significantly more limited than the second.

The more limited category includes Medicare Supplement insurance plans of types A, D, K, and L. The primary purpose of these plans is to insure you against the costly Medicare Part A coverage gaps, which can pose insurmountable barriers to anybody who suffers from a chronic health condition that requires frequent emergency and/or in-patient care. Unfortunately, these plans provide their benefits solely to Medicare Part A coverage gaps and do little to nothing for Medicare Part B coverage gaps. This means that, if you have been paying significant amounts of money in the form of Medicare Part A coverage gaps but little to nothing in the realm of Medicare Part B coverage gaps, one of these plans could potentially be everything that you need.

On the other hand, if you are losing a significant portion of your wealth to Medicare Part B coverage gaps, then you are going to want to look at one of the plans in the second, more comprehensive category of Medigap insurance plans: types B, C, F, G, M and N. These are the Medigap plans that cover both Medicare Part A coverage gaps and Medicare Part B coverage gaps, making them the preferable option for seniors who need help covering both parts of Medicare without all the additional coverage options and hassle of securing a Medicare Advantage plan.

Unfortunately, Medicare Advantage plans are still vastly superior to Medigap plans in the following account: Medigap plans of either type might provide what you need in terms of healthcare insurance but don’t provide any form of prescription drug, dental, or vision coverage. That means that, if you were to enroll in one of these plans, you would have to further supplement your supplemental insurance with a third, fourth, or potentially fifth provider. In reality, the number tends to stick at three or even two if your Medigap provider also offers supplementary coverage for these categories of care via a secondary option unrelated to your Medigap plan. This is a phenomenon that is gradually becoming more and more common with each passing year as businesses attempt to capitalize on this need by presenting you with better, cheaper options.

At the end of the day, your healthcare is your responsibility; and, as with any responsibility, it is one that is best handled sooner rather than later. By waiting and procrastinating this complex decision-making process, you risk being diagnosed with a severe and debilitating health condition, which would take that choice away from you and hand it to your children along with your financial and personal independence. So don’t take that risk. Don’t wait. Go to today and begin speaking with the experts on how to best to ensure a happy and healthy retirement.

Medigap Plan Minimum Monthly Premium Maximum Monthly Premium Average Estimated Monthly Premium (Part B Premium Included)
Plan A $68 $222 $281
Plan B $104 $252 $314
Plan C $121 $287 $340
Plan D $116 $233 $310
Plan F $109 $266 $323
Plan F (high deductible) $28 $76 $188
Plan G $94 $195 $280
Plan K $41 $92 $202
Plan L $74 $129 $237
Plan M $109 $146 $263
Plan N $74 $186 $266
by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.