It’s no secret that as we age, more health issues tend to show up. That’s why universal health coverage for seniors is especially vital. Thankfully, Medicare has been serving the needs of kupuna since 1966 and coverage options have increased fairly dramatically in the last 20 years. Original Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance); Part D provides prescription drug benefits. Other options include Medicare supplement plans that cover some of the costs that Medicare doesn’t and Medicare Advantage Plans that build on what Original Medicare provides.
The good news in a preliminary report from the MCBS is that, overall, Medicare beneficiaries were in good health and were generally very satisfied with their Medicare coverage. This satisfaction extended to key metrics such as the cost of Medicare, access to medical care, and the quality of care they receive. Still, being aware of your family’s health history and common health challenges faced by our elders can be helpful as we look to prevent the onset of illness and plan for the financial aspects of our golden years.
Top 5 Health Issues Affecting Seniors and How Medicare Can Help
1. Heart disease
According to CDC.gov, heart disease is one of two leading causes of death for people 65 years of age and older for the last few decades. Heart attacks, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol all caused by heart disease, need to be well managed by a health care provider. Medicare Part B covers many of the diagnostic tests used to diagnose heart disease as well as cardiac rehabilitation programs and cardiovascular behavioral therapy for qualifying health conditions. Medicare will also cover chronic care management services related to heart disease, as needed. Medicare Part D and most Medicare Advantage Plans cover the medications used to manage heart disease.
According to CDC.gov, cancer is one of two leading causes of death for people 65 years of age and older for the last few decades. As we age, women have an increased risk of breast, cervical or endometrial cancers, while men have an increased risk for prostate cancer. Cancer requires early diagnosis and intervention for the best chance of survival. Medicare Part B pays for many medically-necessary cancer-related services and treatments provided to cancer patients.
About 25% of adults over the age of 65 have type 2 diabetes. This is a manageable condition if it is well monitored by a health care professional who can advise about lifestyle changes and prescribe the supplies and insulin that will help control the symptoms. Medicare Part B covers durable medical equipment, including blood sugar self-testing equipment and supplies and insulin pumps. It also covers the doctor’s visits required for managing the disease.
4. Vision and hearing loss
According to the nia.nih.gov, approximately one in three kupuna between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and almost half of seniors over the age of 75 has issues hearing. Data from afb.org shows that 12.2% of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 report having vision loss (almost twice the rate of those 18-44), and 15.2% of Americans 75 years of age and over report having vision loss (almost three times the rate of those 18-44). Vision and hearing loss issues require care from medical professionals. While Original Medicare does not currently cover vision or hearing care, most Medicare Advantage Plans do and there has been a recent push by Senate Democrats to include these health services in Original Medicare insurance.
5. Oral health issues
Oral health issues are fairly common in the senior population. Gingivitis, periodontitis, gum disease, xerostomia, and the need for dentures are all dental issues that disproportionately affect people over the age of 65. Regular dental visits are vital for maintaining oral health. While Original Medicare does not currently cover dental care, most Medicare Advantage plans do and there has been a recent push by Senate Democrats to include this health service in Original Medicare insurance.
Our independent insurance agents are dedicated to assisting people on Medicare and those who are ready to transition from employer coverage to personal retirement coverage. We help kupuna understand their benefits options and apply for additional coverage, as needed. Because we represent all the major Medicare Advantage and supplement plans in Hawaii, we are able to offer unbiased advice; all at no cost to our clients.
At PBC, our clients are our number one priority and we look forward to getting to know you and your needs. Call us today at (808) 738-4500 to see how we may be of assistance.