Did you know that the average funeral in North America costs between $7000 and $10,000? This range usually includes funeral home services, burial, and a headstone. While the costs for funerals vary depending on your location and the funeral home you select, you can expect to pay:

  • $2500 for a casket
  • $1500 for a funeral director’s services
  • $500 for embalming
  • $1000 for a gravesite
  • $500 for grave-digging services
  • $1000 for a grave liner
  • and $1500 for a headstone

There could be additional charges for things like newspaper obituaries, flowers, etc.

Even the cost of cremation can get out of hand, with most estimates placing it between $2000 and $4000. Additional charges may appear in the form of obtaining a death certificate, transporting the body, handling charges, purchasing or renting a container for the remains, or having the body present for visiting hours prior to cremation.

As you can see, death is an expensive proposition in the United States. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover death benefits or the expenses typically associated with funerals, burials, cremations, and the like. That said, there is an alternative. You might be able to use a Medicare Advantage plan called a Medicare Medical Savings Account to set aside money that your family can use to help pay your funeral costs.

Medicare Medical Savings Accounts can help

Medicare Medical Savings Accounts, like other Medicare Advantage (sometimes called Medicare Part C) plans, are sold and serviced by third-party health insurance companies. These companies operate under contract with the federal government’s Medicare program. The Medical Savings Account is exactly what it sounds like: an account that you basically debit in order to pay your healthcare costs. Medical Savings Accounts usually come with very high deductibles, so they may not be a workable option if you visit the doctor frequently or have a medical condition that requires frequent treatment or medications.

If your situation does allow for a high deductible Medical Savings Account, though, you will be allowed to designate a beneficiary. Your beneficiary may be able to use a portion of the unused funds in your account for burial expenses. To see if a Medicare Medical Savings Account is right for your situation, contact your current healthcare plan provider and ask them about availability. You can also research local health insurance companies, paying special attention to those who advertise Medicare Advantage services. Our representatives can help you in this process.

Survivor benefits

There are relatively few resources to turn to if you’re looking for survivor benefits. You might try the Social Security Administration, the Railroad Retirement Board, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, or your state insurance department. You should also consider reassessing your Medicare coverage every year in advance of the October 15th Open Enrollment Period. You may be able to switch plans or drop unused coverage, which could save you money on monthly premiums and fees that could then be set aside for burial expenses.

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.