Most retirees rely on Medicare when they become 65 to cover their healthcare expenses. The government-run program offers coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, laboratory tests, prescription drugs, and more. But some people do not realize that Medicare covers some healthcare costs in its entirety, and there are some expenses that it does not cover at all. If you are not willing to cover these costs alone, you may be in serious trouble.
Below, I discuss four of the most common healthcare costs that Medicare does not cover, along with ways to prepare for them, so you don't have to choose between health and financial independence.
. Dental Care
Medicare, unfortunately, does not pay for cleaning teeth, dentures, fillings or other types of dentistry. Seniors need to pay completely out of their pocket for their dental visits, unless they have an additional insurance covering them.
Some Medicare Advantage Plans – issued by private health insurance companies – include some dental cover or you can purchase a Medigap policy. These are also issued by private insurance companies and specifically cover healthcare expenses like Medicare does. If you buy one of these policies, it will have its own deductible, prizes and copay. This will increase your monthly health care expenses, but it should hopefully reduce the amount you pay out of your pocket when you need to visit your dentist.
Another option is to opt for a dental savings plan. This is not insurance, but it can reduce your cost of dental care. You pay a monthly fee to sign up, and in return you get access to lower negotiated fees for your dental work.
If you have a health care account (HSA) or a flexible expense account (FSA), you can use the funds in them to pay for dental care as well. These accounts allow you to set up income before tax, and as long as you spend the money on a qualifying medical expense, you don't pay tax on it when you withdraw it either. Used in combination with a dental plan or additional insurance, they help you save even more.
2. Vision Care
Medicare Part B covers some preventive and diagnostic eye exams, including glaucoma and macular degeneration tests, and routine eye exams for those who have diabetes. And if you need cataract surgery, Medicare covers this as well as the cost of any vision-correcting products you need after surgery. However, you still need to pay your deductible and a 20% copy unless you have an additional insurance covering them.
But if you are a healthy person who needs glasses or contacts, including eye exams, glasses and contact lenses, fall to you.
Some Medicare Advantage Plans offer coverage for routine eyes and other vision services. However, the Medigap guidelines do not usually do so, so you need to look at a vision savings plan to reduce your costs outside of your pocket. This is worth thinking about if you know that you will have vision costs in retirement, but if your vision is good, you may not feel the need to spend extra money on synergy.
3. Hearing Aids
One of the most surprising omissions from the list of things that Original Medicare covers is hearing aids. You pay 100% of your pocket costs for hearing aids, batteries and exams for mounting hearing aids. However, Medicare can pay up to 80% of the cost of a diagnostic examination if your doctor arranges it.
Medicare Advantage Plans may cover hearing aids, depending on the schedule you choose, but you still need to pay deductible and any copies as well as monthly premiums. There are also some charities that provide free hearing aids for low income income.
4. Long Term Care
If you become physically or mentally unable to care for yourself in your old age, you may need to hire someone to take care of you or move to a nursing home. A semi-private room in nursing homes was on average $ 225 a day back in 2016, according to the latest US Department of Health and Human Services statistics, and your costs may be much higher if you live in an expensive area.  Medicare does not pay for any of these costs, so you may want to consider investing in a long-term care insurance. These cover especially the cost of long-term care, but they are not cheap. Premium can average more than $ 2,700 per year, according to LifePlans.
If you can't afford to pay so much for a policy, you need to start saving as much as you can in an HSA if you're eligible for one. To qualify for an HSA, you need a high-quality health plan with a deduction of at least $ 1,350 for a single adult or $ 2,700 for a family. In 2019, individuals can contribute up to $ 3,500 to HSAs, and families can contribute up to $ 7,000. People 55 and older can contribute an additional $ 1,000. These contributions reduce your taxable income and the funds in these accounts can be withdrawn tax-free for to cover long-term care costs.
No one can predict what kind of medical expenses you will incur in retirement, but chances are, you need at least one of the services listed above. Planning for them today can help ease the burden on the economy later.