Jane Fonda has a habit of shaking things up. When she spoke about life’s third act at a TED talk, she did not disappoint. If you also view the last three decades of life as a significant developmental stage in which you can succeed in whatever you pursue, whether in art, science, literature, or another field, you do not want to be held back by health issues or stifling medical bills. Therefore, are you planning for your Third Act? It is important to understand the things that Medicare DOESN’T pay for.
How the Items on This List Can Affect Your Enjoyment of Life
If you need a type of healthcare that original Medicare does not pay for, you must either carry another insurance plan that covers it or pay for it out of pocket. Forbes says that Medicare will only cover about half of your medical expenses in retirement.
If you must spend a significant portion of your fixed income in retirement on medical expenses, you will not have that money to do the things that can bring you joy, like traveling or visiting your grandkids. You might not afford the things that make life comfortable, like keeping the thermostat set where you are neither too hot nor too cold, buying nutritious food or replacing worn coats, shoes, and clothing.
The Uncovered Eight
There are eight categories of services and items Medicare will not pay for, that you must pay for through other coverage or pay out-of-pocket. These are:
- Long-term care, also called standard nursing home care or custodial care. Nursing home expenses can gobble up your life savings within a year or two. Custodial care is one of the most sizeable costs a person can face. Medicare will cover medically-necessary skilled nursing care for a short period. However, it does not cover standard nursing home care. Medicaid pays the expenses of more nursing home residents than any other single payer.
- Eye exams for getting prescription glasses. Medicare does not help pay for these exams, but they will cover medical procedures for the eyes.
- Dental care. Medicare does not pay for most dental care.
- Dentures. If you lose your teeth because Medicare refused to pay for your dental care, the harm is compounded because Medicare will also not cover the cost of your dentures.
- Hearing aids and fitting exams. Hearing aids are expensive, but Medicare will not pay for either the devices or exams for fitting them.
- Foot care. Many people experience problems with their feet as they age. Unfortunately, Medicare will not help you with the cost of routine foot care.
- Acupuncture is a minimally-invasive treatment that can bring pain relief for many people, but Medicare will not pay for it.
- Cosmetic surgery rounds off the list of the eight things Medicare does not cover.
Caveats: Even when Medicare pays for healthcare, you must still pay your premiums (usually nothing for Part A, but most people must pay Part B premiums), deductible, coinsurance, and copayments.
The information in this posting is general law. The law in your state may be different, and there may be other programs available where you live. Talk with an elder law attorney in your area.
Forbes. “What Medicare Doesn’t Cover: A Preretiree’s Guide.” (accessed January 16, 2018) https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/09/18/what-medicare-doesnt-cover-a-preretirees-guide/#1c1d4bee36ae
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “What Part A & Part B doesn’t cover.” (accessed January 16, 2018) https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/not-covered/item-and-services-not-covered-by-part-a-and-b.html
TED. “Life’s third act: Jane Fonda.” (accessed January 16, 2018) https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_fonda_life_s_third_act#t-65423