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Living Forward

Life Lived to the Full Beyond Retirement

Article by Emily O'Halloran

Photography by Rebecca Mitchell

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

In contrast to all of the things that 2020 has taken away from us, there is one thing that it’s given us in full measure, and that is a heightened awareness of the intersection – and sometimes conflict – between our health and our finances. Our health and our prosperity are inextricably linked, and the increased focus on this idea brought on by the challenges of the COVID pandemic may be the gift that many didn’t know they needed, especially if retirement years are around the bend.

What do health and prosperity look like in retirement for you? Most Americans are living longer, healthier lives, and our retirement years will likely be full of opportunities to pursue our health goals; it’s never too late to become more fit. Theresa Harrison started running after retiring from the helm of her very successful intelligence and cyberspace business. It’s not too late to make a lasting dietary or lifestyle change, or to pick up a new hobby that promotes well-being such as becoming involved in The Rotary and traveling the world as Jan West did upon retiring from her real estate company.  In fact, the slower pace of retirement opens doors that have been closed to us in our working years or years busy with our children’s lives. Suddenly it’s not impossible to join a yoga class that meets in the middle of the day, or a cycling club that rides for hours each weekend, or swim in the English Channel Relay like former Frederick County school teacher, Janet Manning, has done. Not many would take up that challenge, but Janet was game to do that to commemorate her 50th birthday.

When we think about what may be in the years ahead, it can be encouraging and exciting; less stress and more time will do wonders for our health and longevity – but will health costs that we face in our senior years sabotage all of that potential?

Playing one of the largest roles in both our health and financial considerations for retirement is Medicare, and because it’s both complicated and frankly, unenjoyable to learn about, many seniors approach their Medicare eligibility (for most Americans, at age 65) largely in the dark about what to expect. The results of this can be shocking and disappointing; costs are generally much higher than they anticipated, care that they would have expected to be covered by Medicare will not be, and depending on location, plan and provider options may be limited. Without a foundational understanding of what Medicare costs, what it does and doesn’t cover, and what choices they’ll have access to, facing all of these considerations can leave many retiring Americans feeling robbed of some of the financial security and health benefits they were counting on.

To minimize stress and maximize enjoyment of our senior years, it’s never too early to learn more about Medicare – if you’re approaching Medicare eligibility, you’ll have the confidence that comes from a clear vision of what lies ahead, and if you’re several years away, you’ll have the time you may need to save more for healthcare costs in your retirement years. Some of the things to learn now are:

·         Medicare has monthly premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copayments; depending on your health needs, out-of-pockets costs for many Medicare beneficiaries can be several thousand dollars per year.

·         Medicare does not cover long-term care (also called custodial care), and most nursing home care is custodial care, so planning for long-term care costs in addition to Medicare costs is an important piece of a secure retirement.

·         Medicare does not cover dental care (Medicare plans that mention dental benefits are offering ancillary benefits that typically don’t exceed $1500-$2000 per year). The dental needs of seniors are often greater than those of younger people, especially as dental technology rapidly advances, so planning extra savings for years of dental care is critical.

·         Medicare plan options are different from one state to the next and even from one county to the next, and they will have varying costs depending on locality, as well (you may have the same plan as a cousin in North Carolina, but may be surprised to find that your premiums in Maryland are higher). You may see doctors who are critical to your care, but those providers are not in-network for the plan in your area that fits your budget.

          If you are many years away, staying on top of changes in the Medicare system and how they’ll impact you later is a wise practice, in addition to saving more with eyes towards realistic healthcare expenses in retirement. If your Medicare years are quickly approaching or you are already on Medicare, there is still good news – Medicare is constantly growing and making improvements that are focused on the whole health of its beneficiaries, and plan options in the Frederick area are improving each year, as well. With help from a licensed Medicare insurance professional, you can review your current plans and make cost-saving changes for the year ahead. Wherever you are on your path, knowing more will mean less stress – a winning combination for a healthy and prosperous retirement.

About our author:

Emily O’Halloran, is a licensed Medicare insurance agent and the Executive Director of Medicare Portal. Medicare Portal is an independent insurance agency based in Tysons Corner that focuses solely on providing education and enrollment assistance to current and future Medicare beneficiaries. Emily, along with her associates, simplifies the transition into Medicare by spending time educating her clients about the moving parts of Medicare, including enrollment periods, costs and options. Since every beneficiary has unique medical needs, Emily’s focus is to listen intently, to understand your medical utilization and priorities, and to develop a solution that will best meet your medical and financial needs for the upcoming year. Emily works with clients in the DC Metro area and represents all the major carriers in the local marketplace. Best of all, there is no cost to her services or impact on your premiums because she and her associates are compensated by the insurance companies.

In addition to the joy she finds in this role, she is the devoted mother of four and wife to T.J.  Emily is driven by her desire to serve others in both her role as an agent and as a friend. She doesn’t eschew hard work and is committed to being excellent in all she does. Orange Theory, the beach, a glass of wine and good friends are a few of her favorite things.

Know more, stress less.