Did you know that Medicare coverage gaps can sometimes leave you spending thousands of dollars out of pocket?

As people age, they tend to increase the amount of time and money they spend seeking medical care. Unfortunately, by the time you’ve satisfied the requirements to qualify for Medicare, you might be too late. These expenses could very well bankrupt you before you even get to enjoy the retirement that you’ve been dreaming about throughout your entire working career. To put things in perspective, let’s take a quick look at some of the data.

Facts and Figures

  • There are 25,139 senior citizens living in Norfolk, Virginia right now.
  • There are 10 hospitals in the Norfolk area where seniors can get emergency and/or in-patient care.
  • 17% of Virginia’s seniors have a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • 24% of Virginia’s seniors have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan.
  • This leaves 59% of seniors potentially uninsured or underinsured against costly Medicare coverage gaps!

Although the numbers above might not seem like too much of an issue now, they can quickly become life-threatening. Even if you are in the best shape of your life at a healthy and active 65 years old, disease and illness could strike at any moment.

Nobody likes to think about their own mortality or the loss of their prime health; however, if you don’t think about these things, how can you protect yourself against them? The fact of the matter is that, as you age, your risk of obtaining an adverse health condition increases significantly.

Regardless of how good your health is today, there remains the ever-increasing chance that you might become sick in the future. Why take the kind of risk outlined in the chart below? By taking the proper steps to insure yourself against harm, these dangers can go from insurmountable barriers to simple inconveniences.

Disease Prevalence in Norfolk
Arthritis 24%
High Blood Pressure 33%
Coronary Heart Disease 6%
Diabetes 11%
Kidney Disease 3%

Healthcare Costs in Norfolk, VA

Unfortunately, the increased risk of illness and the harmful symptoms that coincide therewith aren’t the only negative aspects of aging. Healthcare costs also increase significantly, in no small part thanks to these illnesses.

The costs of Arthritis alone can measure in the thousands of dollars every year for the rest of your life, potentially increasing to even greater annual costs as you age. Furthermore, one of the unfortunate side effects of the gift of longer life, given to us by modern medical care, is that healthcare costs are constantly rising in order to keep up with the life-lengthening medical practices.

If you are one of the many uninsured or underinsured seniors in Norfolk, for you, this might mean running you into thousands upon thousands of dollars of debt when you should be enjoying your retirement.

Disease Prevalence in Norfolk, VA Annual Cost of Treatment
Arthritis 24% $292
High Blood Pressure 33% $354
Coronary Heart Disease 6% $7,375
Diabetes 11% $2,165
Kidney Disease 3% $6,473

Medicare advantage Savings in Norfolk, VA

One thing you should pay special attention to is the fact that Medicare Advantage plans are not part of the government. Although they share the same name as Medicare plans in general, these plans are, for the most part, actually provided by privately owned and operated companies.

This means that your existing Medicare insurance that you receive from the government will be replaced by the better, more efficient Medicare Advantage plan that you choose to purchase through a private insurer. But not to worry, Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to provide you with the same benefits as ordinary Medicare plans. However, by virtue of their privatization and their need to outcompete their competitors, many providers of Medicare Advantage plans will give you the option to add additional coverage options to your array of benefits.

One of those primary benefits is the fact that Medicare Advantage plans can provide your with coverage that applies to almost every aspect of your healthcare needs, including small things like glucose monitors and testing strips as well as major expenditures such as prescription drug costs. If you happen to have or develop diabetes, arthritis, and/or high blood pressure, these savings can lead to massive increases in wealth and quality of life in the long-term as well as peace of mind and stress relief in the short-term.

As Billy Mays used to say, “But wait, there’s more!” Medicare Advantage plans also provide options for dental and vision care, two coverage types that original Medicare and Medigap plans do not provide. This means that Medicare Advantage plans can provide you with more benefits than these other plans while typically costing the same monthly premium. Seeing as how the government covers the vast majority of those premiums for Medicare Advantage plan participants in the United States, that monthly premium could end up being $0 despite providing you with even greater coverage.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Savings in Norfolk, VA

Fortunately for the 41% of seniors in Norfolk who have proper supplemental Medicare insurance, it’s not all doom and gloom. These seniors are protected from the bulk of the financial and medical struggles associated with rising healthcare costs.

In fact, certain Medicare policies, such as Medicare Part A supplemental insurance plans, even go so far as to cover most (if not all) of your hospital visits. This is particularly important for those seniors with a naturally higher predisposition to kidney and heart diseases, which can easily become life-threatening or financially ruinous if you go underinsured and untreated. Without these supplemental Medicare policies, you remain at increased risk of this sort of unwanted suffering, regardless of whether or not you are naturally predisposed to those two categories of illnesses. When faced with the increased risks of age-related kidney and heart diseases, these costs can be enough to force seniors out of retirement and back into the workforce.

What do you do when your Medicare Part A costs are too high and are preventing you from seeking the help that you need and deserve? Enroll in a Medigap supplement plan type A, D, K, or L. These policies are designed specifically to help you afford the costs that your Medicare Part A plan doesn’t cover, which is a critical factor in saving you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. Without this sort of coverage, you will remain at risk not only of a sudden worsening of your health but also of suddenly being forced out of retirement. Needless to say, this is an unsustainable combination.

If, however, your Medicare Part B costs are presenting you with just as much difficulty as your Medicare Part A costs, you’re not going to get as much benefit out of the above-mentioned type A, D, K, or L plans. Instead, you’re going to need to look into type B, C, D, F, G, M, and N plans.

The reason for this, to put it simply, is that only the latter plans cover both Part A and Part B gaps in coverage. What does this mean for you? If you’re like most seniors and are spending money on more than just hospital visits, odds are you will have coverage gaps in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars without one of these plans that cover both Part A and Part B.

In the past, type F plans were available and could also help you protect yourself against age-related illnesses and their costs. Unfortunately, beginning in 2020, this type of plan will no longer be offered.

Although Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans can save you a large sum of money in both the short-term as well as the long-term, there are a few key disadvantages of these plans. The primary disadvantage being that Medigap supplements do not include coverage for prescription drugs. This means that, despite the fact that you might need to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of prescription drugs every month, a price that your Medicare had been covering before a certain point, you will likely soon find that that money is coming almost entirely out of your pocket rather than from your insurance. Fortunately, the costs associated with these prescriptions is offset easily enough by a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Such plans are typically quite affordable, particularly in Norfolk.

It is important to make sure that you understand that keeping yourself properly insured is more important now than ever before. Because of the rising healthcare costs in Norfolk, Virginia, even the smallest sign of an age-related illness could spell disaster, not only for your financial well-being but also for your health. It’s never too early to start looking for Medicare supplemental plans, but it can quickly become too late. Be sure to head to Medigap.com and start shopping for plans today. At the end of the day, your peace of mind will be worth it.

Medigap Plan Minimum Monthly Premium Maximum Monthly Premium Average Estimated Monthly Premium (Part B Premium Included)
Plan A $76 $180 $264
Plan B $95 $201 $284
Plan C $127 $390 $394
Plan D $116 $189 $288
Plan F $128 $273 $336
Plan F (high deductible) $24 $61 $178
Plan G $101 $215 $294
Plan K $40 $80 $196
Plan L $73 $111 $228
Plan M $109 $128 $254
Plan N $84 $173 $264
by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for Medigap.com. 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.