The universal healthcare system, like the ones operating in countries such as Canada or Finland, is yet to be implemented in the USA. Instead, elderly U.S. citizens have to rely on a program that offers a way to significantly lower healthcare-related expenses after retirement — the Medicare program.
By 2018, over 49 million Americans have already enrolled the Medicare (CNBC, 2018). However, the planning of Medicare requires careful deliberation since misunderstanding can result in unpleasant outcomes. The lack of coverage and the following necessity to pay for medical services happens quite often. An average family couple on Medicare has to spend about $280 000 to cover healthcare costs for the rest of their lives (CNBC, 2018). Therefore, careful, disciplined preparation of a Medicare plan is key to saving on medical costs instead of getting bankrupt.
CNBC provided a short video guide for all who need an understanding of how Medicare works. The first thing that can be learned from it is the structural parts of Medicare. Part “A” covers hospital services, part “B” — medical costs, Part “D” — prescription drugs, and Part “C” (Medicare Advantage) includes all of them in one package (CNBC, 2018). All parts except for “A” come with a monthly premium. In addition, all parts have an annual deductible, which must also be considered.
Knowledge of Medicare Parts
The most critical knowledge of CNBC’s guide lies in understanding that the selection of Medicare must be based on the enrollee’s health condition. One needs to undergo a proper medical assessment and carefully read what is included in the Medicare plan’s parts. For example, Bob, a healthy 65-year-old man from the guide, selected just parts “A” and “B” only to find out that they do not cover dental, vision, ears, and abroad care (CNBC, 2018). People like Bob would have to spend enormous sums on unexpected healthcare and medical costs in real life.
Importance of Timing
Luckily, the Medicare plan can be amended; however, that would likely come at additional costs. CNBC (2018) stressed that if the enrollee applies for Medicare out of the enrollment window, which opens three months before reaching 65 and closes three months after, they will have to pay penalties. Moreover, the addition of an extra Medigap element is available only for six months after enrollment. Without Medigap, the patient would have to pay the full cost of health care abroad, and its late addition requires special medical underwriting (CNBC, 2018). The factor of pre-existing health conditions makes a choice even more complicated and costly.
Overall, even the user-friendly guide looked quite complicated and included many considerations for the enrollees. Medicare provides cost cuts but, at the same time, forces older adults to calculate and look two or three steps ahead. For instance, an unexpected worsening of health conditions can easily lead to significant expenses uncovered by Medicare. Implementation of universal healthcare for the elderly would have solved that problem, but for now, they can rely only on preparation, help from the family, and luck.
CNBC. (2018). What Medicare does and doesn’t cover | CNBC [Video]. YouTube. Web.