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Pre-Retirees: Plan Now for Health Care Costs

Submitted by Edward Jones
If you're close to retirement, you'll have several financial issues to consider. But you'll want to pay attention to one of the most important of these issues: health care costs. How can you prepare yourself for these expenses? First, get an early start on estimating health care costs. More than two-thirds of those planning to retire in the next 10 years say they have no idea what their health and long-term care costs will be in retirement, according to the Edward Jones/Age Wave Four Pillars of the New Retirement study. And some people don't worry much about these costs, which may be considerable, thinking that Medicare will pay for most of them.
 
While Medicare does cover many medical expenses, it also has its own costs. You probably won't pay a premium for Part A (inpatient/hospital coverage), since you likely had this cost deducted from your paycheck when you were working. But if you are hospitalized, you'll have to pay deductibles and coinsurance (the percentage of costs you pay after you've paid your deductible). Part B (doctor's visits) requires a premium, deducted from your Social Security checks, and you must pay an out-of-pocket deductible. After you meet this deductible for the year, you typically pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for most doctor's services. And when you enroll in Part D (prescription drug plan), you will likely also have to pay a monthly premium, an annual deductible and coinsurance or copays.
 
To help pay for the Medicare deductible, coinsurance and copayments, you may want to get supplemental insurance, known as Medigap. Premiums for Medigap vary, depending on the plan you choose.
 
As an alternative to original Medicare, you could select Medicare Advantage (sometimes called Part C). Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies approved by Medicare, but the benefits and costs vary by plan. These plans generally will incorporate Medicare Parts A and B and will provide additional medical coverage, such as prescription drugs.
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