Social Security benefits should be a lot better for U.S. senior citizens

When they tell you the best time to start preparing for your retirement years was yesterday, it’s the truth.

Social Security’s Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B - health care for retired U.S. citizens turning age 65 - is not what it is cracked up to be.

First of all, it is clear that taking care of senior citizens in this country is not a top priority of our government, but it should be.

I will turn age 65 on May 1 but I do not plan to retire from working, first of all because my “full’’ retirement age (as mandated by the government) is not for another year or so - age 66 and a handful of months.

While I can legally “retire from working’’ at age 65, the government will penalize me the rest of my living days, by permanently reducing my Social Security monthly retirement pay, if I do, since age 65 is not considered “full’’ retirement age any more.

You can also start drawing Social Security retirement pay at age 62, but again, the government will penalize you the rest of your living days by permanently reducing your monthly retirement paycheck.

The U.S. government allows you to sign up for Medicare A and Medicare B  - retirement health care benefits - as you turn 65, even if you don’t plan to retire from working, but watch out because it is confusing.

Medicare Part A is free and covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care and some home health care. 

Medicare Part B, which is not free, covers 80 percent of certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive services. It also reportedly helps cover the cost of prescription drugs (including many recommended shots or vaccines).

Medicare Part B will cost me about $175 per month for the 80 percent coverage of the cost of the services listed above. Isn’t that odd that Medicare Part B requires me to pay a monthly premium?

Why isn’t Medicare Part B free to retirees and why doesn’t Medicare Part B cover 100 percent of the services listed above?

I was surprised that I would be required to pay a monthly premium for health care insurance that will cover only 80 percent of the limited services listed above.

To cover the other 20 percent of the cost of the services listed above, I am signing up for a Medicare “supplemental’’ health care insurance that will cost me about $153 per month, plus a $250 deductible.

I chose to sign up for the Medicare “supplemental’’ health care insurance because I was told that now was the only time I could sign up for this “supplemental’’ health care insurance without a health screening.

I was told that the government will allow me to “try-out’’ the other kind of Medicare “supplemental’’ health care insurance called “the Advantage plan’’ about a year from now. The Advantage plan does not require that I pay a monthly premium but it may provide me with limited access to doctors and hospitals out of my so-called “network’’ and it is a “co-pay’’ or “pay-as-you-go’’ type coverage. Sounds great if you never get sick.

The “Advantage’’ plan may even have some dental, vision and hearing coverage.

If I don’t like the “Advantage’’ plan then I can switch back to the “supplemental’’ plan without a health screening - according to the government’s confusing rules.

But if I would have signed up for the “Advantage’’ plan first, then wanted to switch to “supplemental,’’ I would have been required to have a health screening to apply for the the “supplemental’’ and it’s not guaranteed that the government would even let me have it.

To confuse matters even more, the government only allows retirees to switch health care plans at a specific time of each year.

In addition to Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B and the Medicare “supplemental’’ health care insurance, I have also signed up for a Part D - Prescription plan to further help cover the cost of any prescription drugs that I might need. The Part D - Prescription plan will cost me about 50 cents per month based on my current prescription needs.

In addition to the above-mentioned health care plans, I am also continuing my dental coverage offered through my employment, which costs me about $40 per month because the government’s Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B retirement plans do not cover any dental expenses.

Does the government believe that seniors have no teeth? It seems that way.

What about insurance to cover hearing tests and hearing aids (if I need them)? I am still investigating how to cover those expenses.

Considering the $95 billion that the U.S. government just approved in more foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, and all of the funding for pork barrel political projects, plus President Joe Biden’s insistance that college student debt should be paid for by the government, there is no reason why the U.S. can’t provide free health care for retirees that include free prescriptions and free dental, hearing and vision care.

It’s no wonder that many people over age 66 continue to work for as long as they can.

Without substantial savings or investments, it looks like it might be difficult - especially in high inflationary times like we have now - for a retiree’s Social Security income to keep pace with high health care costs now and in the future.              

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141


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