Did you know that there are gaps in your Medicare insurance? And that having an illness that isn’t covered by one of those gaps could leave you with tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt? But what can be done about it? It’s called gap insurance, and it is designed to cover what Medicare Parts A and B don’t. As a resident of New Orleans, you face some uncommon challenges that most other seniors may not when it comes to choosing the most cost-effective health care for you.
Senior Medicare in New Orleans: Facts and Figures
- There are 50,439 senior citizens living in New Orleans right now
- There 10 hospitals in the New Orleans area where seniors can get emergency and/or in-patient care
- 33% of Louisiana seniors have a Medicare Advantage plan
- 17% of seniors have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan
- Which leaves 50% of seniors potentially uninsured or underinsured against costly Medicare coverage gaps!
When the human body reaches maturity and past, changes continue in our physiological makeup. Some things just begin to break down after so many years, no matter how good of a condition their owner tries to keep themselves in. Those types of sicknesses are the sort which never quite get better because there is no ‘cure’, only continuing treatment and management. People with those illnesses can still live perfectly full, happy lives, but the cost of managing a prolonged disease is not an inexpensive one, especially if there is more than one illness at once. Below are the most frequent chronic diseases in New Orleans.
|Disease||Prevalence (in New Orleans)|
|High Blood Pressure||39%|
|Coronary Heart Disease||7%|
Healthcare Costs in New Orleans, LA
On top of so many affected seniors, there are the prices of associated care to consider. Medical drugs, various pieces of equipment, hospital stays, in-home care, and regular visits are all factors which stack up over time, leading to a huge bill. The expense of medical care is on the rise every year, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon. With seniors living longer lives, this can mean even bigger bills, and more of them. There is no time to wait. You have to know if your coverage is enough in order to protect the things you have spent a lifetime working to get.
|Disease||Prevalence (in New Orleans)||Annual Cost of Treatment|
|High Blood Pressure||39%||$356|
|Coronary Heart Disease||7%||$7,255|
Medicare Advantage Savings in New Orleans, LA
While the name ‘Medicare’ might make you think these programs are government-offered, that is not actually the case. Medicare Advantage is its own form of private insurance. It is approved by the government to sell to seniors who are already enrolled in Medicare. Instead of paying for your insurance costs directly, the government pays their share to Medicare Advantage, and you pay the rest of the premium. Law requires that Medicare Advantage plans provide at least every benefit which a traditional Medicare plan offers, but they go much further than just basics.
Seniors in general say they feel the coverage is better under the Medicare Advantage plans than under Traditional Medicare. It is the nature of chronic diseases to require on-going management, whether for sustained treatment or simply to stave off symptoms and improve quality of life. Over time, conditions worsen and costs continue to increase, leaving patients worse off than ever. Medicare Advantage plans can be far more comprehensive than the coverage offered by Medicare alone, even with options like Part D.
Not only do Medicare Advantage plans cover as much as Medicare Parts A and B; they can potentially cover even more. This can be doctor visits, various equipment, a prescription plan, or a combination of the three, plus more for most Medicare Advantage policies. Also, most plans come with the option to add dental or vision coverage to the policy you select. The government in turn subsidizes your monthly premium, allowing you to get a deep discount on Medicare Advantage plans. There is even the potential for a payment of $0 a month. Copays and coinsurance will still be patient expenses, and out-of-pocket costs will apply for the few items that your insurance does not cover.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Savings in New Orleans, LA
Additional Medicare gap coverage policies are Medicare Supplement Insurance policies, or Medigap policies. They work a bit differently than Medicare Advantage plans, but can still save a good amount of money, particularly with gaps in Medicare Part A. Severe chronic conditions can cost five digits and up for a single treatment or incident. At a given point, Medicare stops their coverage, and the patient is responsible for the rest. These bills can be huge, and make an already difficult diagnosis and treatment that much harder.
Right now, there are four plans intended to cover Medicare Part A gaps. Plans A, D, K, and L are all intended for covering the potential gaps in Traditional Medicare. Additional plans do account for Part A, but with Part B as well. Those will be discussed below the chart. However, if you don’t need coverage for Part B, then it would be wise to consider a plan without it, as it will save in premium costs.
Other Medigap plans available are Plans B, C, D, F, G, M, and N. They cover Medicare Part A costs as well as differing portions of Part B. The more coverage your plan provides, the more the monthly premium will cost. But, this also means far fewer out-of-pocket surprises when situations arise, both for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. A few dollars more in premium payments could save potentially thousands in medical bills. It is worth noting that Plan F will be retiring at the end of 2020, and you cannot enroll in it after December of 2020.
Traditional Medicare Part B covers any medical aspect that Part A cannot. This generally includes outpatient procedures, regular office visits, and medical testing home equipment. Responsibilities like coinsurance and copays will remain with the patient, as well as any premium. These costs too can be hard to handle, but thankfully there is no shortage of choices to help further reduce them.
Medicare Advantage offers plans which cover incidental costs with prescriptions, dental, or vision coverages. Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) plans do not. Medicare itself does give the option for Part D coverage which is very inclusive for many types of prescription medications. A quick online search can uncover excellent local sources of dental or vision insurers which offer discounts to seniors.
For New Orleans seniors, having budget-friendly Medicare is integral to securing a comfortable, livable retirement, not to mention protecting any accrued savings. It is sad to say, but medical costs seem to only continue rising over time, and it is due to factors far beyond our control. But what we do have control over are the ways in which we prepare. Find a Medicare supplement insurance plan that will help you when you need it most, and keep you safe from pricy gaps. We want to help make that happen.
|Medigap Plan||Minimum Monthly Premium||Maximum Monthly Premium||Average Estimated Monthly Premium (Part B Premium Included)|
|Plan F (high deductible)||$38||$82||$196|