When I told my daughter I was doing noon workouts at the local pool, she was shocked. “What?” she said. She thought I had said, “nude workouts.” As a matter of fact, just about the only suit I put on these days is the one I wear lap swimming.
I really like the midday vibe at the pool. It’s a great gathering of elders and adults who are keeping their bodies in motion with laps and calisthenics. And it’s accompanied by the chatter of people treading water in the deep end and relaxing in the whirlpool.
Exercising and hanging out with friendly people—those are the more enjoyable parts of a well-rounded health plan. And they can be really impactful, too, helping us live longer and better. A focus on health and community can even contribute to lower costs for treatments and medication. Still, it’s important to include realistic estimates for the cost of healthcare into your financial plan.
When to think about healthcare coverage
Thinking about healthcare coverage needs to happen during times of transition like a job change, retirement, marriage, moving to a different state, or starting a family. Unfortunately, those can also be times of increased stress and long to-do lists. Just like it’s important to be proactive about your financial planning, you should stay ahead of healthcare as well—because it’s all part of the same picture. Sometimes you may be forced to make a change. Other times there might be an opportunity to get a better deal or increased coverage.
Open enrollment is usually a once-a-year opportunity to look at your coverage and make changes if it seems appropriate. Life changes may also give you an opportunity to add or change insurance, depending on the circumstances. Here are a few examples:
- A new job. If your new employer offers healthcare coverage, take a careful look at the choices to see what will be the best fit for you and your family. Usually there’s a person to call who’s the plan administrator, and they should be able to discuss the finer points of each option. You may also be able to add vision and dental coverage, long term care, or disability insurance.
- Leaving or losing a job. It used to be that losing a job meant losing healthcare. But a federal law from 1985 called COBRA requires employers with 20 or more employees to offer the option of continuing coverage under certain conditions. COBRA lets you keep your existing insurance for a period of time by paying the full monthly premium. Because you’ll be paying the employer’s portion as well, COBRA can be very expensive, so you should compare it to what you can get on your state healthcare marketplace.
- Family changes. If you’re getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child, don’t wait for open enrollment to add your new family member to your healthcare plan. If both spouses have job-related coverage, talk to your plan administrator(s) for information that will help you decide which plan provides the most benefits at the best price.
- That big milestone birthday. Don’t let your 65th birthday sneak up on you. Educate yourself about Medicare well in advance because there are decisions to make about prescription and supplemental coverage. Your financial planner will be able to help you calculate your expected costs based on your income history.
Okay, so thinking about healthcare costs and insurance plans will never be as relaxing as floating around in the pool at noon. But it’s all part of your financial picture. The decisions you make will impact your budget and your peace of mind. Join the club if it all feels incredibly confusing and ask for help if you need to so you can get on with doing the fun stuff. In addition to your financial planner, you can often get help from healthcare navigators or Medicare seminars.
Questions to think about:
- Are you confused about health insurance? Your financial planner can show you what you might want to consider based on your age and circumstances.
- Are you approaching 65? It’s important to contact Social Security three months before your birthday to avoid higher Medicare Part B costs.
- Are you thinking of early retirement or self-employment? Talk to your financial planner about the benefits and drawbacks of COBRA versus your state’s healthcare marketplace.
- If you have a major life event on the horizon, be sure to communicate with your health plan administrator well in advance.
- Remember that healthcare is an important component in your financial plan. When you talk to your planner, share your policy and any additional expenses you anticipate.
- If you’re on Medicare, be sure to review your plan yearly, comparing the coverage and cost to other available plans, since they can change from year to year.
As we approach year-end, we want to thank you for your business and wish you and your family a safe and festive holiday season. In observance of the holidays, our offices will be closed on November 23rd and 24th as well as December 25th through January 1st of 2024.
Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or email@example.com if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.
The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.