Health Insurance Options for Senior Citizens

Updated December 31, 2018
senior couple paying bills

Senior citizens are often uncertain about how to find an affordable health insurance plan that provides them with the coverage they need. Many retired people are concerned about the rising costs of medical expenses and the limitations of their existing health insurance coverage. This is why it is important for seniors to research affordable health insurance alternatives that offer top-notch coverage.

Medicare Health Insurance for Senior Citizens

The following is basic information about Medicare:

  • When most senior citizens reach the age of 65 they become eligible for health insurance coverage through Medicare.
  • Some seniors may also qualify for Medicare coverage at an earlier age if they have certain medical conditions or disabilities.
  • Medicare coverage alone is not enough to cover the high cost of today's medical expenses.
  • There are many instances where the federal health insurance plan does not cover the costs of certain medical care or prescription medication, making additional insurance on top of Medicare desirable.

Supplemental Health Insurance for Senior Citizens

Seniors use supplemental insurance coverage to pay for the medical services that Medicare does not cover or only partially covers. These types of supplemental Medicare insurance plans are called Medigap insurance plans.

Medigap Insurance Plans

Private insurance companies offer Medigap health insurance plans. Medigap policies are only available if you have Medicare Parts A and B. The cost of these supplemental insurance plans varies based on the specifics of the coverage, as well as the insurance company offering the plan. Examples of the different types of coverage in the individual plans include:

  • Plan A provides the most basic benefits coverage and is generally the most affordable plan.
  • Plan L covers only 75% of fees for services and a $2400 out-of-pocket requirement but does have lower premium payments.
  • Plan N is a newer plan and offers the most extensive range of coverage benefits at a low cost.

The various Medigap plans offered to senior citizens in each state are regulated by the federal government. The federal regulations require every private insurance company offering Medigap health insurance policies to provide the same benefit coverage from state to state. This ensures that seniors receive the same level of benefits based on their specific policy type regardless of where they live.

Choosing a Medigap Plan

Every senior citizen must determine the best plan for his individual needs based on medical history and financial circumstances. Since this process is often confusing, each state provides free assistance to seniors trying to understand the different options and choose the best coverage for their specific needs.

Do You Have Questions or Need Help?

If you need help choosing the best coverage for your individual situation, or have any questions regarding the healthcare system, contact the State Health Insurance Assistance Program in your state. The program, known as SHIP, provides personalized, free counseling to seniors who receive Medicare, their families and caregivers.

How to Contact SHIP in Your State

To find the contact information for SHIP in your state:

Additional Resources

The following are additional resources to help you find insurance options:

  • A chart of Medigap standardized insurance plans A - N with the benefits of each plan included (provided by The Medicare Channel).
  • The government website for Medicare provides information on the different parts of Medicare, corresponding prescription drug plan coverage and the current Medicare premium rates.
  • AARP provides healthcare and insurance plan information.

Additional Help and Resources

Additional tools and resources provided by the AARP and other companies may help you decide what you are lacking and answer questions about your coverage. The right level of coverage could help save your assets and protect your family from loss in a crisis. Visit the following sites for more information:

  • Rate Quotes: comparison shop for health insurance online.
  • AARP: learn about healthcare for those under 64 (and their dependents) or supplemental insurance for individuals with Medicare by visiting the AARP site.
  • Centers for Medicare Advocacy: a private, non-profit agency that offers legal assistance, education, and advocacy services to seniors and disabled individuals in need of healthcare.
  • Medicare information site: find information regarding Medicare, Medigap and prescription drug plans.
  • American Seniors Association: similar to the AARP, the ASA is an organization dedicated to senior support. It provides discounts on commonly used goods and services as well as information and helps with Medicare, insurance, prescriptions discounts and travel.

Affordable Insurance Is Essential

For many older Americans, finding affordable senior health insurance is essential. It often means the difference between having adequate medical coverage and not being able to pay for necessary medical and prescription needs. While Medicare is affordable, it is not a comprehensive insurance plan, which makes finding the right affordable supplemental insurance an important step in ensuring quality care that you can actually pay for.

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Health Insurance Options for Senior Citizens