Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Know the ABCs and More About Health Insurance and Providers of Medicare Supplemental Insurance in Retirement

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If you thought medical insurance before retirement was both confusing and expensive, hold onto your hat. There are numerous health insurance options – both government and private – and you will likely require supplemental insurance to be adequately covered.

Not only is it confusing, healthcare costs in retirement can also be staggering. You are older and your body is more vulnerable and prone to disease. At the same time, medical expenses increase every year. Even though Medicare offers some coverage to all Americans, most retired persons pay large out-of-pocket health care costs.

Many retirees are not prepared for the high cost of medical care they'll face in retirement when they are no longer part of a company plan. Too many people believe that Medicare covers most or all expenses. The reality is that Medicare only covers a percentage of your medical bills. According to analysis, average out-of-pocket health care spending by Medicare beneficiaries is sizable and increases with age. (Learn more about this and other issues of medical care in retirement in our Retirement 101 section.)

On average, Medicare beneficiaries aged 65-74 spend $2,920 a year in out-of-pocket expenses. Those aged 75-84 spend $3,815, a year. And, those 85 and above spend $4,615 a year – an average of 30 percent of their income.

Almost half of these out of pocket health care expenses were for premiums for Medicare part B or private medical plans. Approximately another 24 percent of that spending - $830 a year - is for prescription drugs.

Perhaps worst of all – none of these health insurance options offer long term care health insurance. Most also don't cover vision, dental care, hearing aids or prescription drugs.

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