For millions of Americans, 65 is a very special birthday.
Although the retirement age is gradually increasing –– and people retiring today are not eligible for full Social Security benefits until 66 –– 65 is still the age at which every American can enroll in Medicare.
While Medicare provides far more generous coverage at a much lower cost than commercial health plans, it does not always prevent its beneficiaries from experiencing serious financial problems due to medical bills.
Indeed, a 2015 study by the Kaiser Foundation shows Medicare patients dealing with a number of conditions that require expensive prescriptions, notably cancer, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, have to dig very deep to pay for their medication, even though they are only paying for a small share of the total cost. Cancer patients who are put on Revlimid, a specialty drug, pay a median of $11,538, the study says.
A new study by PrescribeWellness suggests many seniors aren’t planning enough for Medicare and managing their health care costs in old age.
According to the survey of 1,000 Americans over the age of 45, only 25 percent say they have researched Medicare and any secondary coverage they might need before hitting 65. More than half say they haven’t done any type of research, including talking to a doctor or a friend, on Medicare planning.
It’s important to note, however, that many of those responding are still many years away from Medicare eligibility.