Thursday, October 23, 2008

Medical Expenses

Lack of money is the number one concern of all retirees. I had planned well to meet my monthly expenses in retirement and I'm fortunate that as a Federal Retiree I have continuing medical coverage, but I still feared an unexpected major medical crisis. How could I possibly handle that? I have been retired 4 years now and have been hospitalized 5 times, 2 of which were serious medical injuries and illnesses. Even though I have major medical coverage, I still have spent more than $30,000 during this time. While it was difficult at times to cover those unforeseen medical expenses, I managed by cutting my variable expenses like eating out and traveling. But without major medical coverage, I would have been faced with medical bills in excess of $160,000. I'm sharing this, because after my last hospitalization just 3 months ago, I found out that the #1 cause of bankruptcy in America, especially for retirees, is due to lack of adequate health coverage.

Since you don't have a crystal ball to predict how healthy you will be in retirement, you must plan for adequate major medical health care coverage. Some of the things to consider are: does your company offer health coverage in retirement; if so, how do you apply for it and how much will it cost per month? If coverage is not available, you might be eligible under a COBRA policy. An explanation of benefits can be found by looking up COBRA Insurance Plans online. Or, if married, can you be covered in retirement under your spouse's plan? The best time to be concerned about how you will cover your medical coverage in retirement is 5 years prior to actually retiring as some medical plans require coverage that far in advance. Above all, be prepared --- don't let unexpected medical expenses steal your financial security and retirement dreams.

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