It’s common for married couples to share the same healthcare plan provided by an employer in their working years. However, for most married couples, this isn’t the best strategy going into retirement. The coverage options offered by different Medicare plans varies greatly, as do the health needs of individuals as they age. What should you and your spouse know about Medicare plans and your health coverage choices as you prepare for retirement?
There Are No Family Medicare Plans
Jack is five years older than Mary. As he makes plans to retire at age 65 and enroll in Medicare, he assumes even though Mary will lose healthcare coverage from his current employer, she’ll be automatically covered by his Medicare benefits.
Sadly, even though many seniors are under the impression that Medicare assumes responsibility for the younger spouse, this is not the case. No one is able to get Medicare coverage before age 65 unless they are disabled. Mary has to either obtain health insurance through her own employer or explore other group health insurance options. Medicare benefits only extend to inviduals – there are no family plans.
Your Collective Income Affects Medicare Cost
Your total income – earnings from both you and your spouse – will affect the total cost of your Part B premiums. In 2017, the Part B premium is $134 for individuals who make $85,000 or less and married couples who file jointly and make $170,000 or less.
The monthly premium increases along with higher incomes on the part of you and your spouse. Of course, if you are the only one enrolling in Medicare Part B and your spouse is the high earner, you could file separately to avoid a monthly premium increase.
Pick Your Own Part D
Many couples assume if they sign up for the same Part D plan, paying for each individual’s prescriptions count towards a collective premium, but this isn’t true. You each have to meet the deductible before you can expect Medicare to start covering prescription costs.
The same principle applies to Medicare Advantage plans – each individual has to meet their annual deductible separately before the plan’s coverage kicks in, even if a married couple is enrolled in the same plan.
Do you pay your monthly premium by check? Make sure you split up your payments – don’t combine them in one check. Sometimes plans assume a large payment is an individual’s pre-payment for the next month rather than a separate payment for a spouse’s plan. Avoid this mishap by sending two checks, even if you both enroll in coverage from one provider.
Discuss the ins and outs of exploring Medicare plans for both you and your spouse – call My Senior Health Plan today for helpful advice.