When it comes to retirement planning, one of the most crucial aspects to consider is healthcare coverage. Medicare, the federal health insurance program for those who are 65 and older, offers a wide range of benefits, but it’s not all-encompassing. There are several key areas of healthcare that Medicare does not cover, and beneficiaries need to be aware of these gaps.
Here’s a closer look at four surprising things Medicare won’t pay for.
1. Long-Term Care:
One of the most significant costs in retirement can be long-term care, but Medicare does not typically cover long-term nursing home stays or long-term in-home care services. Seventy percent of Americans turning 65 today will require long-term care, based on a report by the Department of Health and Human Services. This statistic highlights the importance of preparing for such expenses through alternative insurance options or personal savings, as the costs can be substantial and could quickly deplete retirement funds.
2. Most Dental Care:
It is well known that oral health is vital to overall health, but Medicare beneficiaries may be surprised that the program does not cover routine dental care. This includes cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, and dentures. There are exceptions when dental services are part of another covered procedure. Still, for the most part, those who rely on Medicare will need to pay for dental visits out of their own pockets or seek additional dental coverage through private insurance or Medicare Advantage plans that offer dental benefits.
3. Vision Care:
As well as not covering routine eye exams, Medicare does not cover contact lenses or glasses. While some Medicare Advantage plans offer vision benefits, beneficiaries under standard Medicare must find alternative methods to cover these expenses. Because vision care is a critical component of senior health, overlooking this coverage gap can lead to significant out-of-pocket costs.
4. Hearing Aids and Related Exams:
There is a high rate of hearing loss among older adults, yet Medicare does not cover hearing aids or the exams for fitting them. Considering the high cost of hearing aids and the potential need for updates and adjustments over time, those without additional coverage may face financial challenges. As with vision and dental care, some Medicare Advantage plans may provide hearing benefits, which are not included in traditional Medicare.
Awareness of what Medicare does and doesn’t cover can help retirees plan accordingly and seek additional coverage or savings options to fill these gaps. It’s also worth noting that while Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies can help pay for some of the out-of-pocket costs that Medicare does not cover, it does not cover such items as long-term care, dental care, vision care, or hearing aids.
Planning for these uncovered expenses is an essential step in retirement planning. Without proper preparation, retirees could find themselves facing unexpected financial burdens at a time when their income is often fixed.