Medicare is wonderful program that helps seniors with the expense of medical bills later in life. Yet, there are items Medicare doesn’t cover and you need to be aware of them prior to entering the program. AARP’s recent article entitled “7 Things Medicare Doesn’t Cover” talks about some needs that aren’t part of the program — and how you might pay for them.
- Opticians and eye exams. Original Medicare will cover opthalmologic expenses like cataract surgery, but it doesn’t cover routine eye exams, glasses, or contacts. In addition, it’s usually not covered by Medigap plans (supplemental insurance available from private insurers to augment Medicare coverage). Some Medicare Advantage plans cover routine vision care and glasses. As such, it may be wise to purchase a vision insurance policy for a few hundred dollars a year for the expense of glasses or contact lenses.
- Hearing aids. Medicare covers ear-related medical conditions, but original Medicare and Medigap plans won’t pay for routine hearing tests or hearing aids. You may need to purchase insurance or a membership in a discount plan that helps cover the cost of such hearing devices.
- Dental care. Original Medicare and Medigap policies don’t cover dental care like routine checkups, dentures, or root canals. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer dental coverage, but if yours doesn’t, or if you opt for original Medicare, you may want to get an individual dental insurance plan or a dental discount plan.
- Care When Overseas . Original Medicare and most Medicare Advantage plans offer next to no coverage for medical costs incurred outside the U.S. However, there are a few Medigap policies that cover certain overseas medical costs. However, if you travel a lot, you might want this option. In addition, some travel insurance policies provide basic health care coverage. You should also look at medical evacuation (medevac) insurance for your time abroad. This is an inexpensive policy that will transport you to a nearby medical facility or back home to the U.S. in an emergency.
- Podiatry. Routine medical care for feet, such as callus removal, isn’t covered. Medicare Part B does cover foot exams or treatment, if it’s linked to nerve damage because of diabetes, or care for foot injuries or ailments. Therefore, you may want to set up a separate savings program for this expense.
- Cosmetic surgery. Elective cosmetic surgery isn’t included in Medicare. This includes procedures, such as face-lifts or tummy tucks. However, Medicare will cover plastic surgery in the event of an accidental injury. So, if you face these costs, you also may want to set up a separate savings program for them.
- Nursing home care. Medicare pays for limited stays in rehab facilities. This may be a situation where you have a hip replacement and need inpatient physical therapy for a few weeks. However, if you become so frail or sick that you must move to an assisted living facility or nursing home, Medicare doesn’t cover your custodial costs.
Having planning in place to address the items Medicare doesn’t cover is a prudent decision. Work closely with an elder law attorney who has familiarity managing Medicare expenses.
If you are interested in learning more about Medicare, please visit our previous posts.
Reference: AARP (Oct. 1, 2020) “7 Things Medicare Doesn’t Cover”