Supplemental Health Insurance for Retirees


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One short stay in the hospital could offset the cost of several years of supplemental health insurance. Even though you are covered by TRICARE, a supplemental insurance policy is a good idea for retirees. Here's why:

  • TRICARE does not cover all costs.
  • TRICARE has a yearly deductible to be paid.
  • TRICARE has a yearly cap on non-covered expenses; the cap is extremely high, and you are responsible for the cost of non-covered items up to that amount.

If you are covered by health insurance with your new employer, you may use TRICARE as your supplemental insurance for that policy. Check with your TRICARE advisor concerning your particular circumstances and those of your family. 

The Supplemental Health Insurance Test

Private supplemental health insurance makes sense in a variety of situations?

  • Unemployed? If you remain unemployed after retirement, you should ask yourself, "Do I have sufficient health insurance and coverage for me and my family?"
  • Under-insured? After retirement, did you accept a job that does not provide full medical coverage for you or your family?
  • Not insured? Do you rely on limited VA medical benefits as your only source of medical care?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you should consider obtaining supplemental health insurance. 

Shopping for Supplemental Health Insurance

There are many places to obtain supplemental health insurance. Several fraternal associations and many commercial insurance companies offer such plans, but you should look carefully for the one that is best for you and your family. Insurance plans vary greatly with which medical procedures are covered and the percentage the policy will pay.

When shopping for health insurance, first consider the benefits you may have as a retiree or veteran. Then purchase supplemental insurance. The trick is to find a supplemental insurance plan that covers all your anticipated needs without paying for benefits that duplicate what you already have.

There are five basic types of health insurance coverage:

  • Hospital expense insurance pays for hospital bills either in part or in full. Watch out for policies that do not pay for the first 8 to 10 days of a hospital stays (the average hospital stay is fewer than 8 days).
  • Surgical expense insurance covers surgeon fees. Beware -- for major surgeries, all of the fees may not be covered. Read the policy carefully before you sign it. 
  • Medical expense insurance covers doctor's visits in the hospital, in the doctor's office or house calls.
  • Major medical insurance pays practically every form of hospital and outpatient care as long as a licensed physician provides the care. Most people choose major medical because it is so comprehensive. However, the payments for this type of coverage are high.
  • Disability insurance pays a percentage of your normal income if a disability prevents you from doing your job.

When looking at your health insurance coverage, take a moment to review your insurance on your automobile, personal property, real estate, and loan payments. Insurers sometimes offer discounts to customers who purchase several types of insurance from the same company.

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