Happy Aging is a unique series focused on how to help you age well. These stories have been created in cooperation with AARP and Word In Black.
It’s natural for our bodies to change as we grow older. Our hair thins. Shoulders cave. Knees weaken. Vision shifts. A visit to a doctor can prevent a major ailment and, if circumstances are dire, potentially prolong life. Sometimes the most difficult question we can ask is “What are the best health insurance options in today’s climate?” Out of pocket spending grew 10.4% to $433.2 billion in 2021, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. There are many ways to cover basic and pre-existing needs, including public and private programs. Consider these options:
This is one route to go if you work for a company—before or during retirement—that offers employee insurance. Say you have a spouse with workplace insurance, you’re in luck. Your premium might vary.
If you lose your job, change jobs, or start working less hours, then the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires your employer to extend your health insurance for a certain period of time.
This option has a low-income requirement based on where you live. Plans are different, spanning from teletherapy to corrective eye surgery. Check here for state guidelines.
You’re eligible for Medicare once you reach age 65. Coverage is comprehensive. Anything that’s not included in your plan will call for supplemental insurance such as a medigap policy. Read more about Medicare basics, here.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
In theory, HSAs do not cover life-saving operations. But these accounts do help you set aside tax-free savings for medical care and prescriptions. There are a few ways to open an HSA; by signing up through your employer or a financial institution. HSAs have contribution limits. You can invest those funds in stocks, though.
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
You’ve got a network of doctors to choose from when you select an HMO. For a monthly fee, you receive in-network care. Any treatment that you receive outside of the network, you’ll have to pay for out of pocket. You can easily identify a primary care physician when you are covered by an HMO. This person refers you to specialists.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
Here, you have a network of primary care physicians and specialists to choose from without a referral. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs are typically higher for PPOs, so it’s a good idea to review what your needs are before selecting this plan.
There are other considerations to make as you grow old, such as the possible need for long-term and continuing care. You can find plans with varying premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs through the healthcare marketplace. Coverage aside, a sure way to support your aging is to get trained in basic self-care routines, which include daily exercise and a healthy food plan.