“Planning” is the operative word for thinking through healthcare coverage decisions as you age. Although one can never know what the future will bring you can be better prepared by devising a game plan in the following areas:
Consider Purchasing a Long Term Care Plan: Although you may not need it until later on, the time to think about LTC is typically when you are in your 50’s. As we age, health and wellness plans are a subset of an overarching financial wellness strategy. At this stage, inflation adjusted long term care can be purchased to help safeguard rising medical costs. Once in your 60s, this will not be available. Long-term care insurance is something you should discuss with your financial advisor.
Investigate What Wellness Programs are Available to You: Review with your peers and HR team all aspects of wellness programs offered through your employer/insurance company. These programs emphasize diet, exercise and general well being. Heart disease, diabetes and weight issues start to show up as one gets older and wellness programs work to combat the impact of these health problems early on.
Scrutinize What Doctor Networks are Available in Your Plan: Check out the hospitals and doctor networks that your current medical plan offers. Often people don’t think about this because they haven’t had a need for hospitalization. Only later do they find out that the hospital or doctor they want is not in their network. This is also true for finding the medical specialists and gaining second opinions.
Investigate your Current Drug Plan: As you age, there is a growing need for pharmaceuticals. Look at your current drug plan to determine if you have a full range of coverage with no maximum limits or if the plan deploys minimal deductibles on the front end. Check to see if there are restrictions on drugs in your plan that impact use of generics, brand names and non-formulary drugs (drugs that are not covered by your plan).
Plan on Always Having Private Insurance Coverage: Continue private health insurance when you reach the age of 65 to augment Medicare. You need to discuss with your employer how your specific plan works with Medicare part B (insurance coverage). Medicare Part A (hospitalization) is free. However, Medicare Part B and Part D drug plan should be coordinated with your current offering.
Participate in Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs): An additional benefit can be had through the use of HSAs. Regardless of how an HSA is funded, you can get the benefit of tax-deferred growth as well as a spending resource for future healthcare costs.
Review Your Disability Insurance: Find out who pays the premium and what percentage of your income does it cover and for how long. Also find out what the disability payment maximum per month would be and what restrictions there are on your policy. The best disability policy is one which covers you as long as you are not able to perform your own specific occupation. Look for terminology like “own occupation” in your policy.