If you’re under the impression that the noise about Medicare plans, enrollment, and options has reached a fevered pitch these days, you’re not alone. We call this “Medicare Mania,” and this is only a partial list of the many symptoms many are reporting1 :
Overwhelming Number of Ads: Seniors feel bombarded by too many advertisements from health insurers and brokers.
Confusing Offers: Advertisements often promote lower costs and extra benefits, some of which seniors might already be entitled to, leading to confusion.
Incessant Phone Calls: Many seniors report too many unsolicited phone calls pressuring them to change their plans.
Misleading Information: Not all benefits mentioned in ads are available in every area, which can be misleading.
Provider Coverage Issues: Seniors may switch plans, only to find out their current health care providers are not covered under the new plan, leading to increased costs.
Fake Official Status: Ads by brokers and insurers sometimes show what look like government-issued Medicare cards, potentially misleading seniors into thinking they are official Medicare communications.
Too Many Medicare Advantage Promotions: A significant majority of the ads promote Medicare Advantage plans, which may not be the best option for everyone.
A Second Opinion
In the pursuit of taming Medicare mania, there’s another ally often overlooked yet crucial—your financial advisor. While they might not be healthcare experts, financial advisors play a pivotal role in ensuring your Medicare choices align with your long-term financial and retirement goals. Especially for advisors with several clients approaching or already well within Medicare age, you can expect a high level of familiarity with various approaches to selecting appropriate plans.
Understanding the Financial Implications: Medicare decisions can have significant financial ramifications. Your advisor can help you understand how different Medicare plans might impact your retirement savings and expenses.
Budgeting for Healthcare Costs: A financial advisor can assist in budgeting for healthcare costs, factoring in Medicare premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, and potential long-term care needs. Budgeting is always an essential part of financial planning, and as people age, it naturally becomes even more important.
Navigating Retirement Income and Medicare: There’s a delicate balance between your retirement income and Medicare premiums, especially concerning IRMAA (Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount).2 IRMAA often becomes a factor for higher-income individuals. Your advisor can guide you on managing income levels, if feasible, to avoid unnecessary premium increases.
Coordinating with Estate Planning: Some Medicare decisions can intersect with estate planning. Your financial advisor can help ensure that your healthcare choices can flow through retirement planning into complementing your broader estate and legacy plans.
Working with Your Financial Advisor
Hopefully you’ve already developed a solid relationship with your financial advisor. If they are worth their salt, they should already know you and your goals quite well. Here are a few things to keep in mind when talking with your advisor about Medicare:
Discuss Your Healthcare Needs: Share your current health status and potential future needs. This information helps your advisor tailor advice to your specific situation.
Review Your Financial Plan: Examine how your Medicare choices fit into your overall financial plan. Your advisor can help adjust your plan to accommodate changes in healthcare costs and, as mentioned before, also account for the potential effects of IRMAA.
Explore All Options: Encourage your advisor to collaborate with a healthcare specialist if necessary. This team approach ensures a comprehensive review of your options. Some financial advisors now have excellent software that can use your information to present a carefully filtered shortlist of suitable plans.
Regular Reviews and Updates: Medicare needs can change over time. Regularly review your plan with your advisor to ensure it continues to align with your financial goals.
This is a complex process, whether you’re going through Initial Medicare Enrollment or Open Enrollment, which occurs annually—and is in process right now, through December 7.3 While the choices made now have lasting financial implications, approaching them with the same diligence as managing a financial portfolio is crucial. Involve your financial advisor early in the process to ensure that your healthcare decisions are in harmony with your long-term financial plans.
Disclosure: This information is for educational and informative purposes and shall not be considered a specific recommendation. Readers are advised to speak with their advisor at JL Bainbridge to determine their specific recommendations that meet their investment objectives and to review their portfolios. The material being provided is thought to be accurate. However, the information is compiled from multiple resources and may become outdated or otherwise rendered incorrect by new research or corrections without notice. J.L. Bainbridge & Co., Inc., is not a broker dealer and does not offer tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal advisor for assistance regarding your individual situation. It should neither be assumed that future results will be as profitable or that a loss could not be incurred. For more information related to our firm, please see our disclosure brochures at jlbainbridge.com and https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/firm/summary/108058.
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