Columbia, Missouri, has just about everything that makes for a great place to retire. There are plenty of hospitals and care facilities, the city is ripe with culture, and there are plenty of relaxing and entertaining things to do. Unfortunately, Medicare coverage gaps can cause such a strain on your finances that you won’t be able to enjoy any of those amenities. Medicare coverage gaps can force you to either go without the healthcare that you both need and deserve or pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses. That’s why there are so many seniors in the Columbia area who are supplementing their Medicare needs with either a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Insurance plan.
Facts and Figures
- There are 12,071 seniors living in Columbia right now.
- There are 10 hospitals in the Columbia area where seniors can get emergency and/or in-patient care.
- 31% of Missouri seniors have a Medicare Advantage plan.
- 27% of Missouri seniors have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan.
- Which leaves 42% of seniors potentially uninsured or underinsured against costly Medicare coverage gaps!
More than half of all seniors in the Columbia area have already made the switch to more reliable access to healthcare. However, if you’re among the estimated 5,069 seniors who still rely exclusively on Original Medicare to meet their healthcare needs, then there are a few things you need to know. Every day, your risk of being diagnosed with a new age-related illness increases. On top of that, your existing symptoms also risk worsening in both frequency and severity. The chart below shows how prevalent just a few age-related illnesses are in your area.
|Disease||Prevalence in Columbia, MO|
|High Blood Pressure||24%|
|Coronary Heart Disease||6%|
Healthcare Costs in Columbia, MO
Whether you develop new age-related illnesses or your existing symptoms worsen in frequency or severity, your healthcare costs are going to increase. To put it simply, that’s because worsening health means an increased need for treatment, which then increases the amount of times that you’ll have to pay for healthcare. That being said, there is much more to it than that. Even if your health miraculously remains the same from year to year, your healthcare costs are going to increase. Medical costs are increasing across the board for reasons that economists continue to debate. What matters for you is that you will be paying more out of pocket each year even if your symptoms remain the same. Since seniors are living longer lives than ever before, there is now even more time in your life for these various factors to add strain to your finances.
|Disease||Prevalence in Columbia, MO||Annual Cost of Treatment|
|High Blood Pressure||24%||$354|
|Coronary Heart Disease||6%||$8,880|
Medicare Advantage Savings in Columbia, MO
Medicare Advantage plans are already in use by about 31% of seniors in Columbia, Missouri, and for good reason. Although these are private plans and are not provided by the government, the law still requires that they provide the same minimum level of care. That means that you will not be losing any benefits by switching over. In fact, the opposite is true. The overwhelming majority of Medicare Advantage providers offer the option of adding additional coverage benefits in exchange for paying higher prices. Of course, you’re probably not looking to pay higher prices, hence why you’re reading this article. That’s why it’s important to know that the government handles all or most of your premiums, meaning that you could potentially enjoy all of these extra benefits without paying a penny.
One common additional coverage option that seniors on Medicare Advantage plans can add directly to their plan is prescription drug coverage. The specifics of these plans vary from provider to provider, but they tend to be comprehensive enough to cover not only all of your prescription drug needs but also minor medical equipment such as glucose monitors and testing strips. If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, high blood pressure, or diabetes, then this kind of coverage can enable you to save thousands of dollars in the long run. In fact, over the five- and ten-year periods, you could potentially save tens of thousands of dollars or more.
Another way to help save you money is to add vision and dental care to your Medicare Advantage plan. Whereas Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement Insurance provide barely any benefits at all related to either vision or dental care, Medicare Advantage plans enable you to add comprehensive coverage options related to both categories. That means things like dentures and reading glasses can be purchased at a fraction of the price without having to worry about the monumental coverage gaps inherent in the Original Medicare system.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Savings in Columbia, MO
Medicare Supplement (a.k.a. Medigap) Insurance plans are less common than Medicare Advantage plans in Missouri but work better for a large number of seniors. There are ten plan types all together and each plan type comes with its own specific pros and cons. In order to get into the particulars of each individual plan, you should consider speaking with an expert. In general, however, each plan is carefully designed to help seniors avoid Medicare coverage gaps in various ways, such as covering the Medicare Part A coverage gaps related to hospital expenses, which can be quite high if you’re suffering from age-related heart or kidney disease. Each of the ten plans can be divided into one of two categories in order to better understand their functions.
The first category of Medicare Supplement plan types includes Medigap plans A, D, K, and L. These are the plans that only provide benefits related to the Medicare Part A coverage gaps. That means that you could enjoy access to things like hospitalizations, blood transfusions, and skilled nursing care without having to worry about whether or not you’re going to fall into a coverage gap. Unfortunately, these plans only provide coverage assistance for Medicare Part A coverage gaps, not Medicare Part B coverage gaps.
The second category of Medicare Supplement plan types includes Medigap types B, C, F, G, M, and N. These plans are designed to cover Medicare Part A coverage gaps as well as Medicare Part B coverage gaps, making it possible for you to obtain each of the above treatment options as well as various emergency care options, for example. That being said, not all of these plans are destined to last forever. The U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is constantly making changes to the available plans. One upcoming change is that Medigap Plan F will no longer be available after 2020. So if you want to enjoy the benefits that are currently available, you have to act quickly.
Obtaining prescription drug coverage, vision care coverage, and dental care coverage while on Medicare Supplement insurance is not as difficult as you might think it is. To obtain prescription drug coverage that tends to be sufficient for satisfying the needs of most seniors in the system, you can enroll in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. If you happen to be on a large number of prescription medications or require a vast amount of minor medical equipment, then you might not be fully helped by a Medicare Part D plan. In that case, you could look into a Medicare Advantage plan in order to avoid the “donut hole” coverage gap in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. To obtain vision and dental care, you can simply contact a local provider of those two insurance types in the Columbia area. Since neither vision nor dental insurance requires that you go through the Open Enrollment Period, you can enroll in either of these two plans without waiting for “the right time.”
As medical costs continue to rise alongside your risk of developing new or worsening symptoms, it’s important for you to take steps to ensure that you are properly insured. To rely on Original Medicare is to risk your financial independence in the hopes that you won’t fall through the cracks and land in the Medicare coverage gaps. So don’t wait a second longer! Head over to Medigap.com and get started securing your future health, finances, and independence. Don’t let coverage gaps stand between you and the healthcare that you both need and deserve.
|Medigap Plan||Minimum Monthly Premium||Maximum Monthly Premium||Average Estimated Monthly Premium (Part B Premium Included)|
|Plan F (high deductible)||$30||$93||$197|