Health Care at Every Age: Are You Covered?

By Tommie Ethington

MANAGING HEALTH CARE costs comes down to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, being adequately insured and having sufficient savings. The right type of insurance also can help cover routine medical expenses and may provide protection from unexpected and potentially catastrophic costs.

“Your health care needs will change over your lifetime, so it’s important to re-evaluate as you age and reach different milestones,” says JJ Montanaro, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM with USAA.

Montanaro advises that you consider these types of insurance, based on your current life stage.

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Under the Affordable Care Act, you may be covered under your parents’ insurance until you’re 26, but once you’re on your own, it’s important to buy your own policy. Don’t let health care terminology intimidate you — research your options, which may include an individual plan, a group plan or TRICARE gained through military service. Look into the cost of adding dental and vision coverage. Consider what you can afford by reviewing your health care costs from the past year and your deductible and copay options.

One way to offset costs is by opening a health savings account (HSA), which allows you to set aside money tax-free to cover qualified medical expenses

“Just remember an HSA is strictly for medical needs,” Montanaro says. “If you’re younger than 65 and use the money for nonmedical purposes, you could be taxed and required to pay the IRS a 20% penalty.”

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As you become more financially stable, fill in any insurance gaps. Disability insurance is one of the most important types of insurance for those under 65 and can help replace some (but usually not all) of your income if you are unable to work. Many employers offer a disability insurance plan, but if yours doesn’t, look for a private insurer. Accident and critical illness insurance can help protect you and your finances if unexpected health issues arise. 

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As you prepare for retirement, having a long-term care strategy is critical to maintaining the financial security you’ve built. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of people over age 65 will require long-term care services. It’s best to prepare early and understand the costs. The price of long-term care depends on your needs, location and type of care. This calculator can help you assess the costs in your state. While most people assume their long-term care needs may be covered by their health insurance plans or Medicare, Montanaro says that’s usually not the case for custodial care—non-medical needs like assistance bathing, eating or dressing. 

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At 65, you qualify for Medicare. You’ll have decisions to make and probably questions: What does it cover? What’s the difference between a Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage? If I’m eligible for TRICARE for Life, do I need Medicare? Should I purchase prescription drug coverage? Start by comparing plans and learning about your state’s options. Then use other resources, such as USAA’s Frequently Asked Questions on Medicare, to help with the application process. Also, keep in mind enrollment deadlines.

“The sooner you sort out your Medicare needs, the sooner you can enjoy retirement,” Montanaro says.

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Whatever your needs, USAA’s Health Insurance Marketplace can help.

 234563 – 0816

Health solutions provided by USAA Life Insurance Company and through USAA Life General Agency, Inc. (LGA) (known in CA and NY as USAA Health and Life Insurance Agency), which acts as an agent for select insurance companies to provide products to USAA members. LGA representatives are salaried and receive no commissions. However, LGA receives compensation from those companies, which may be based on the total quantity and quality of insurance coverage purchased through LGA. Plans not available in all states. Each company has sole financial responsibility for its own products. 

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.