In planning retirement, don’t forget employees’ health care costsNews added by Benefits Pro on January 6, 2014

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Dan Berman

With all the focus on saving enough for retirement, it can be easy to forget that your employees have to make sure health care needs are met after leaving a job for the last time.

Help both employees and clients by reminding them to be aware of Medicare eligibility and signup rules, as well other possible sources of health insurance.

“Healthcare costs in retirement are a top concern for many seniors. There is a lot they can do, either right or wrong, that can have a lasting impact on their healthcare costs in retirement,” said Paula Muschler, operations manager of the Allsup Medicare Advisor, a Medicare plan selection service.

There are several questions and concerns you should discuss with an employee or client should be asked as he or she nears retirement, according to Allsup, based in Belleville, Ill. The questions change, depending on the retirement age.

For those retiring at 65:
  • The availability of coverage for an employer or a spouses’ employer should factor into someone’s Medicare choices.

  • One of the first decisions is to choose between (a) Original Medicare, plus prescription drug Part D plans and possibly Medigap supplemental coverage, and (b) a Medicare Advantage plan.

  • Those turning 65 have three months before, the month of and three months after their birthday to choose. Waiting until after their birthday, even in the three-month window, may lead to a gap in healthcare coverage. Waiting longer may lead to enrollment penalties with Part B (medical insurance) coverage and Part D, and can last for as long as someone has Medicare.

  • A spouse and children covered under employer health insurance need to be provided for when moving to Medicare coverage. Options vary, but can include private health coverage.
Assuming a worker took appropriate steps and coordinated Medicare coverage with their employer at 65, they should be able to transition to Medicare without penalties when they retire. Consider the following:
  • Depending on their employer’s size, the retiree upon turning 65 may need to enroll in Medicare and coordinate coverage with both their employer and the federal program.

  • Individuals who didn’t enroll in Part B when they were first eligible because they had appropriate coverage under an employer or spouse’s employer plan may receive a special enrollment period when that existing coverage ends. Steps should be taken so that new Medicare coverage can begin as soon as their old employer coverage ends.

  • Medigap, or supplemental Medicare insurance, must be considered at age 65. Waiting can limit the options available.
For clients and employees who plan to retire before age 65, advisors should make sure they have planned for healthcare coverage until they are eligible for Medicare.

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