For Mark Roberts’ Use: Most people know that when they turn 65, they will become eligible for Medicare. For most retirees, the program is the backbone of their healthcare planning. However, many are surprised to learn, after retirement, that Medicare does not cover all of their medical expenses. In fact, it will only cover about 60 percent of your total healthcare expenditures.

That’s because you’re still responsible for co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, and payments for products or services that are not covered by the plan. With no annual or lifetime out-of-pocket limit, there is no point at which Medicare kicks in to cover 100 percent of your medical and related bills.

That means healthcare expenses should factor heavily into your retirement income plans, and yet many retirees find that they’ve overlooked this fact. It’s important to analyze your options now, before you retire, and to continue investigating them even after retirement. Each year, you have the opportunity to make changes to your Medicare plan(s) during the Annual Election Period in the fall, from October 15 to December 7.

So, just to review some of your options as you plan for retirement, familiarize yourself with these programs. The choices you make can affect your coverage, and therefore your spending.

Supplemental Insurance. For those who enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B, you can also elect supplemental coverage called Medigap. This coverage will pay for part or all of your co-payments, deductibles, and coinsurance in exchange for a monthly premium. There are limits to this coverage as well, such as services provided outside of the country, so make sure you understand your policy completely. You can actually enroll in this policy any time, even outside of the Annual Election Period, but it’s cheaper to do so when you first enroll in Medicare.

Medicare Part D. If you’re concerned about the cost of prescription drugs, a Part D policy can help to cover those expenses.

Medicare Advantage. Also called Medicare Part C, these are healthcare plans offered by private insurance companies who are approved and regulated by Medicare. You could think of these as an “all-in”one” policy, as Advantage plans combine both Parts A and B, and often include Part D coverage as well. Some even provide for dental and vision care, which are not normally covered by Medicare.

As you can see, Medicare is not just a straightforward, one-size-fits-all program. You will face many choices that can help you manage your healthcare spending, and therefore your entire budget. These options are all worth investigation to find the one that suits you best.

Speaking of your retirement budget, keep in touch with us as you plan for retirement. We can help you estimate the cost of items such as healthcare, and help you identify ways to plan for retirement income that matches your anticipated budget.