Basic Medicare Doesn't Cover Everything – Why You Need Supplemental Plans
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Do you know what Medicare covers when it comes to your health? Most seniors don't and when Medicare falls short, seniors could face huge out of pocket expenses. Before you wind up with a stack of medical bills totaling thousands of dollars, here’s why you need to have supplemental Medicare coverage.
Medicare is complicated. The Motley Fool¹ reports that 20 percent of surveyed seniors were confused about their Medicare coverage, and only 5 percent understood supplemental plans or Medicare Advantage plans. So it pays to know now before open enrollment ends!
Dental Work Isn’t Included
Dental work is a common necessity for seniors – from routine teeth cleanings to major dental changes like dentures or dental implants, you’ll need to see a dentist at least semi-annually. However, Medicare won’t cover a single visit or a single cent of your expenses.
As stated on Medicare.gov², Medicare doesn’t cover even the most basic dental care. Dental procedures, like regular cleanings, fillings, and more, aren’t covered. Neither are surgical or cosmetic procedures like dental implants or root canals. And dental devices including dentures are not covered.
Hearing Aids Aren’t Covered
If you currently wear hearing aids or might need them in the future, you’ll have to foot the bill. Medicare offers extremely limited hearing health coverage, offering only a small percentage of coverage for certain doctor’s visits and testing.
Medicare.gov³ states that Medicare doesn’t cover hearing exams, hearing aids, or any doctor’s visits for fitting hearing aids. Medicare subscribers must cover 100 percent of their hearing aid costs. Medicare Part B may cover some of your exams, but only if your doctor orders diagnostic hearing exams – and you still have to pay 20 percent of the cost.
Vision Care is Considered Elective
The Vision Council⁴ reports that 3 out of every 4 Americans need glasses, and if you’re a glasses wearer, you know you’ll need them for the rest of your life. However, you won’t have any financial help from Medicare when it’s time for your annual eye exam or a pair of new glasses.
Annual eye exams of any kind are not included in Medicare coverage, Medicare.gov⁵ reports. And glasses and contact lenses are also not covered under any part of Medicare⁶, meaning you’ll be responsible for 100 percent of any costs.
Medical Care Outside the U.S. Isn’t Paid For
Planning to travel outside of the U.S. and explore new countries? You’ll need to be careful if you’re a Medicare subscriber, as any medical needs you have while away may be entirely your responsibility.
Your ability to use Medicare outside of the U.S. is incredibly limited. Medicare.gov⁷ writes that any medical supplies or care received outside of the 50 states and U.S. territories is typically not covered. Only emergency medical care is covered; all other medical needs are assessed on whether or not they’re necessary.
Supplement Your Medicare Plan with Better Coverage
In order to protect your physical health and your financial health, you need to make sure you’re covered on every front from dental care to eye care. Medicare myths are common, and many seniors end up with huge medical bills they can’t afford when they discover just how many gaps there are in their Medicare coverage.
The best way to ensure you’re fully covered is to find a supplemental insurance plan that suits your biggest needs. Search online to find and compare different private insurance and Medicare Advantage plans. Consider both the monthly premium price and the out-of-pocket expenses you’ll be responsible for. And don’t forget to look for plans that cover what Medicare doesn’t.
Remember, you only have a limited time to add supplemental insurance to your Medicare plan. Open enrollment, which runs from October to December, is the only time of year you can change your coverage. Act now before you miss this short window.
Like anything, it's always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.