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What to consider during Medicare open enrollment

It's Medicare open enrollment and if you’re 65 or older, this applies to you. The deadline to make changes is December 7th. Here are some pointers to keep in mind as you make changes to your Original Medicare and Advantage plans.

You are likely already enrolled in original Medicare, parts A and B. Part A is free and covers hospital stays for the first 60 days, while part B charges a monthly premium and covers doctor visits, etc. It's generally recommended that you have both parts, even if you’re planning on retiring outside of the U.S. Waiting to enroll can incur a penalty of 10% of the premium each year you decide to wait after age 65. If you haven't yet enrolled, you can do so during the first quarter of the year. The projected premium in 2019 for individuals with income less than $85,000/year (single) or $175,000 (married jointly filing) is $135/month.^1

Deciding whether to add medical coverage depends on your health and how much you’re willing to pay out of pocket should the need arise for care. If you’re healthy and want a lower monthly premium, consider getting the Advantage plan which usually comes with a higher deductible and your doctor choices are usually limited within their network. Alternatively, if you want more access to care, the Medigap, or supplemental, plan will come with a higher premium but with lower out-of-pocket costs, giving you the most access to varying care. Note that Medigap has a different open enrollment period.

Advantage plans are getting better. In 2019, they will fully pay for physical and speech therapy, have an added benefit of food delivery to your home, and allow for replacement or cancellation of the policy after the first 90 days.^3 Plans that include Silver Sneakers offer free gym memberships and other benefits.

For those who travel or live overseas and want coverage, Medigap pays a limited amount for emergencies overseas while Medicare original and Advantage plans pay nothing^2. Alternatively, you can get travel insurance for that trip but for those who live full-time overseas might benefit from applying for expat health insurance, such as Clements Global Care (link).

At Eureka Wealth Management I will walk you through your various choices for health insurance during retirement. Costs for medical care is one of the largest expenses people face during retirement and proper planning will help reduce the risk of overspending for care. I also help strategize on investments, tax, and estate. Call for a free, initial consultation at (760) 537-0791 or online at


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