When choosing between Original Medicare, Medicare Supplement Insurance and Medicare Advantage plans, it’s natural for some of your needs to be a bit different with age. There may be a few new considerations when selecting which plan you want as you get for your changing health needs.
Medicare Advantage plans can be added, dropped or switched each Annual Enrollment Period, so it can be a great time to consider whether the type of plan you have is still meeting the needs you have today. Generally, as we get older, our medical needs change a great deal. Making sure the plan you have keeps up with the current needs of your life ahead of time can save you time and money in the long run.
For many people, the calculation for savings with out-of-pocket costs changes with age, especially around ages 75-80. Generally, plans with lower premiums will either have strict networks with restricted access to providers, or high out-of-pocket costs. Plans with higher premiums will tend to have either broader access to providers or lower out-of-pocket costs.
In the younger years, more restricted low-premium plans can make sense as a good way to save money, since many people don’t anticipate using their care as often outside of routine preventive care that is fully covered or in the case of emergencies.
However, as we get older we will inevitably need to use more of our health services, including things we may have never needed before such as skilled nursing facilities and long hospital stays. At this age it may make sense to make the transition to a plan with a higher monthly premium but more comprehensive coverage.
Switching to a 5-Star Plan
As we get older, we tend to have more chronic health problems, and the probability of an acute health problem rises sharply as well. This means we want more than ever to fully trust the services and staff taking care of us, so quality of care often becomes more important than small cost savings.
For people who want to take the extra step in quality, it can be a great idea to use Medicare’s independently graded star system to switch to a 5-star Medicare plan. Having the reassurance of high quality care can mean more at this age than ever before. If you live in an area where a 5-star Medicare plan is available, there is a special enrollment period where you can switch to this plan at any time during the year.
Knowing the Specifics
As we age, the mystery of what types of health considerations are going to be most relevant to us becomes clear. This knowledge will often answer the best type of plan to choose, if you are aware of all your options.
For example, someone who experiences hearing loss, vision changes or dental problems with age might consider switching into a Medicare Advantage plan that covers these issues if they are the most relevant to your health.
As chronic health conditions emerge, you may also find you are qualified for a Special Needs Plan, such as a bundle of care that provides specialized coverage for diabetes care or heart condition care. By age 75, it’s often clear which Special Needs Plan would be the most beneficial for your particular health situation.
Additionally, some people find that in the older years they are traveling often, so finding a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan or Medicare Advantage plan with travel benefits might be the perfect choice for these retirement years.