Can you afford NOT to buy Medicare supplement insurance?

A few weeks ago I fell and broke my arm just above the wrist. Thankfully, our very agile US healthcare system jumped into action and within four days, I had surgery and a good bit of titanium in my arm.

Keeping my arm elevated has an unexpected effect - colleagues always think that I have a question to ask during meetings, making me appear quite enthusiastic.

While I don't consider myself to be a klutz, it occurred to me that these types of accidents will probably happen more as I age, and they will take longer to recover from.

What was stunning was the medical bill – particularly for the emergency room visit which cost over USD 40,000 for 2 hours of care. The surgery was a relative bargain at just less than USD 10,000. The bill was alarming, but it shouldn't have taken me by surprise – after all, the US has the most expensive healthcare costs in the world.

While I'm fortunate enough to have great health care and sufficient resources to absorb the copays, millions of Americans are not so fortunate, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

As a result, bankruptcy filings among retirees have soared in recent years as inequality and rising healthcare costs have left millions of elderly in dire financial straits thanks to uninsured services, deductibles and copays.

Unexpected injuries or illnesses can ruin people financially, and many retirees are one disaster away from the edge. The evidence is here: Medical bills are the biggest cause of US bankruptcies.

Despite the widespread belief that, Medicare – the government-funded healthcare insurance for American citizens age 65 and up – meets the health needs of the elderly, for many it is utterly inadequate at preventing financial hardship. Out-of-pocket spending among older Americans with Medicare eats about 20 percent of their income, and the average non-covered medical expenses for a couple over 65 during retirement is USD 200,000.

Traditional fee-for-service Medicare involves significant cost-sharing; therefore, most people take out supplemental insurance, with only 8.5% of the 44 million beneficiaries relying on Medicare alone. With baby boomers entering retirement and demographic chang es, enrollment in Medicare is expected to reach 79 million by 2030.

That means that we will have to insure roughly double the number of retired people than we are now.

And that's why we've taken initiative to partner with Integrity in order to help provide Medicare supplement insurance and close the gap in coverage between Medicare and individuals' actual medical expenses.

The bottom line is that health-related risks are the biggest financial worry for most Americans, and the elderly are on flimsy footing if they rely on Medicare alone. Medicare supplement insurance coverage is one of the most important health and financial purchases that people can make in order to ensure security in their retirement. Are you interested in becoming a partner to help close the protection gap? Please visit our website to learn more.


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