Gaps in Medicare Parts A and B can be enough to send even the most savvy retirees to the poorhouse without the right insurance coverage. So how can smart seniors save their hard-earned funds? This isn’t just a fight for funds, but a fight for the lives of seniors throughout Washington state. In Seattle, there are assuredly more challenges than most in finding the right coverage.
Senior Medicare in Seattle: Facts and Figures
- There are 90,140 senior citizens living in Seattle right now
- There 11 hospitals in the Seattle area where seniors can get emergency and/or in-patient care
- 30% of Washington seniors have a Medicare Advantage plan
- 21% of seniors have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan
- Which leaves 49% of seniors potentially uninsured or underinsured against costly Medicare coverage gaps!
When the human body reaches maturity and past, changes continue in our physiological makeup. Some things just begin to break down after so many years, no matter how good of a condition their owner tries to keep them in. Those types of sicknesses are the sort which never quite get better because there is no ‘cure’, only continuing treatment and management. People with those illnesses can still live perfectly full, happy lives, but the cost of managing a prolonged disease is not an inexpensive one, especially if there is more than one illness at once. Below are the most frequent chronic diseases in Seattle.
|Disease||Prevalence (in Seattle)|
|High Blood Pressure||24%|
|Coronary Heart Disease||4%|
Healthcare Costs in Seattle, WA
We cannot look at prevalence alone without considering the cost factor of these diseases. Prescriptions, medical equipment, hospital time, at-home care, and scheduled check-ups all have a cost which culminate eventually. Medical costs continue to rise every single year, and seniors are living longer lives now more than ever. When considering these facts, the potential cost can get chillingly pricey, and fast. It is vital that you have the right health coverage going into the final stage of life if you want to protect your investments, yourself, and your future.
|Disease||Prevalence (in Seattle)||Annual Cost of Treatment|
|High Blood Pressure||24%||$359|
|Coronary Heart Disease||4%||$8,418|
Medicare Advantage Savings in Seattle, WA
While the name ‘Medicare’ might make you think these programs are government-offered, that is not actually the case. Medicare Advantage is its own form of private insurance. It is approved by the government to sell to seniors who are already enrolled in Medicare. Instead of paying for your insurance costs directly, the government pays their share to Medicare Advantage, and you pay the rest of the premium. Law requires that Medicare Advantage plans provide at least every benefit which a traditional Medicare plan offers, but they go much further than just basics.
Seniors with chronic ailments have said that they feel the coverage is better for their needs with Medicare Advantage plans. Most chronic diseases – for instance, arthritis, high blood pressure, and diabetes – mandate constant management and effort to control. This can include medications, equipment for testing, and an increased number of doctor and hospital visits, among others. Sadly, these conditions tend to get progressively worse, which ends up costing more and more as time goes by. There are Medicare Advantage plans which can cover even more than a Medicare plan which includes extras, like Part D. It is time to start saving with Medicare Advantage, in order to be prepared when the time arrives.
Medicare Advantage can cover even more than Original Medicare Parts A and B. Doctor visits, testing equipment, and drug plans are options as well. Many plans allow the option to add vision or dental coverage for additional premium costs. Thanks to the government paying some or potentially all of the premium, seniors can get a fully comprehensive Medicare Advantage plan starting as low as $0 a month out-of-pocket for premium cost. There will still be certain items that insurance doesn’t cover, like copays or coinsurance, which will be the responsibility of the plan holder.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Savings in Seattle, WA
There is another type of policy called Medigap, which is a Medicare supplement. They work a bit differently to a Medicare Advantage policy, but they can still save a great amount of money, particularly when covering gaps in Medicare Part A. The biggest chronic conditions, like coronary heart disease or kidney disease, can cost thousands just for the stay in the hospital and treatments while there. These stays can be incredibly long, and after a certain point, traditional Medicare stops coverage. You will have to have some sort of backup coverage, or face paying astronomical costs to continue care.
Currently, there are four different plans tailored for exactly the above coverages. These plans are: Plans A, D, K, and L. There are additional plans which cover gaps in Part A as well as gaps in Part B, but we will discuss those in a moment. For now, it is important to understand that if you do not need the gap coverage for traditional Medicare Part B, buying a supplement plan which only covers gaps in Part A will come with a lower premium, thus saving even more money.
The plans we previously referred to but didn’t discuss are Medigap Plans B, C, D, F, G, M, and N. These plans not only cover Medicare Part A gaps, but also Medicare Part B gaps. Of course, more comprehensive coverage leads to larger premiums every month, but lesser out-of-pocket costs when the time actually comes to use your policy. Also note that Plan F is being retired after the year 2020, and you will no longer be able to enroll in it after that year.
There are gaps in Medicare Part B as well to take into consideration. Part A is supposed to take care of hospital visits and inpatient care, and Part B should, in theory, take care of the rest. This isn’t always how things work, however. Copays and coinsurance remain the responsibility of the insured, as usual, and can add up to a considerable amount over time. There are a variety of different plans which can compensate for this so that patients like you don’t get overwhelmed with too many medical bills.
Medicare Supplement Insurance does not have coverage for medical drugs, dental, or vision care, unlike Medicare Advantage. Traditional Medicare does offer Part D, which is coverage specifically for the above mentioned prescriptions, whether or not any other original plan is purchased. With a quick search through your preferred search engine, you can likely find alternate dental or vision coverage in your area for an affordable price.
For Seattle seniors, having budget-friendly Medicare is integral to securing a comfortable, livable retirement, not to mention protecting any accrued savings. It is sad to say, but medical costs seem to only continue rising over time, and it is due to factors far beyond our control. But what we do have control over are the ways in which we prepare. Find a Medicare supplement insurance plan that will help you when you need it most, and keep you safe from pricy gaps. We want to help make that happen.
|Medigap Plan||Minimum Monthly Premium||Maximum Monthly Premium||Average Estimated Monthly Premium (Part B Premium Included)|
|Plan F (high deductible)||$44||$88||$202|