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When Medicare isn't Enough: Pandemic Highlights Need for Supplementary Insurance Cover

Healthcare advances mean that we stand a better chance of living to a ripe old age, but it also raises challenges around financial planning and especially the medical costs we will face in our “golden years.” Medicare offers some security, but it doesn’t cover every necessary medical cost - and the amount we have to pay can easily exceed expectations, particularly in a pandemic situation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the shortcomings of Medicare into sharp relief, leading scientists to beg the government for increased Medicare cover. For example, labs found that patients without supplement medical insurance were avoiding Coronavirus tests because Medicare only covered about half the cost of a test.

Hospitals have joined the outcry from medical laboratories. The payments they’re receiving from Medicare and Medicaid simply aren’t enough to cover the costs they incur to treat Coronavirus patients. Many of the sick are simply unable to cover their share of the treatment cost, and while hospitals battle a cashflow pinch, patients find themselves confronting massive medical debts that will haunt them for years to come.

Medicare Shortcomings Harm the Most Vulnerable

Medicare patients are the most vulnerable, both economically and in terms of general health, is common knowledge. Apart from older people, the disabled also rely on it to take care of medical expenses.

Those with basic Medicare and no supplemental cover are hardest-hit. Hospital admission would mean a deductible of $1,408 before medicare kicks in. Admittedly, that covers up to 60 days in the hospital, but it’s a high cost for those with few resources to cover, and it’s unlikely that hospital admission cost will represent the full amount for which patients will be liable.

In a recent survey, 52 percent of people relying on Medicare felt that coverage was insufficient, even at the best of times. And with 37 percent of Medicare beneficiaries saying that they have suffered a loss of income as a result of the pandemic, this is certainly not a good time to face an additional blow to household budgets. When Medicare beneficiaries, in general, are often those with lower incomes, it is hardly surprising that 46 percent said they simply couldn’t afford to pay their portion of hospitalization costs should they contract a severe case of the virus.

Unfortunately, those in power seem unlikely to change the status quo. The question of the medical cover has been a political hot potato ever since Obamacare first saw the light of day, and it has remained a political football ever since. With political partisanship adding to the storm, Medicare seems likely to remain as is, at least, for the foreseeable future.

Medicare Supplement Insurance the Only way to Limit Personal Financial Risk

With the Coronavirus pandemic underlining just how vulnerable we are, both in terms of our health and our Medicare, supplementary insurance seems to be the only way to limit financial risk. Just how much it achieves this will depend on the cover individuals choose. Different plan options offer different levels of cover, and Medicare beneficiaries will need to evaluate them in terms of both the level of cover offered and its affordability based on their personal circumstances.

Given that this could literally be a life-or-death question, Medicare beneficiaries would be well advised to investigate their private insurance options and choose the best supplement insurance they can afford.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes

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