Don’t Put Your Customers’ Retirement Plans in the Hands of Medicare

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can assist with paying current and future medical costs, including those associated with retirement. There was a time when many workers in the United States could look forward to a comfortable retirement, complete with profit sharing and investments, a pension, benefits from Social Security and Medicare, and other amenities. They were confident that their golden years would be marked by rest, mental tranquility, and relatively few worries regarding their medical expenses.

Unfortunately, times have changed. Presently, a pension plan is available to only 15% of workers employed in the private sector in the United States. Only about one-fifth of companies in the United States offer a profit-sharing program. The Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a value reduction of more than 10% during the first four months of 2022. Those who are 64 years old have a median balance of less than $85,000 in their 401(k) accounts, but the average balance for this age group is $232,000.

There is no cookie-cutter model for retirement. However, one factor that will affect everyone throughout their senior years is the rising expense of medical care. Many regulations come with Medicare, and if seniors break any of them, it might increase the amount of money they have to pay for their medical treatment for the rest of their lives. According to Katy Votava, president of Goodcare.com, “People do feel overwhelmed and baffled by Medicare. However, there are a few fundamental tasks that a consultant can perform.”

Advice for those working in the financial sector

There are, without a doubt, many intricacies to Medicare’s requirements. Taking on such a challenge might be difficult if you do not have someone on your team who is fully committed to working through the issue. However, there are several methods that financial advisers may utilize to start the discussion with clients, as well as resources that they can send customers to get the dialogue started.

Include discussions about healthcare on the agenda for your next client meeting. “Put it on the yearly agenda, and a lot of those problems will fall out before they’re a crisis,” Votava said. “Put it on the quarterly agenda, and it will fall out before it’s a catastrophe.” When customers reach the age of 62, you should begin discussing Medicare with them. Ask them what physicians they are currently seeing and whether they will be able to continue seeing those doctors once they become eligible for Medicare.

Develop working ties with Medicare specialists in your area so that you may recommend consumers to them. As a start, asking customers who have previously been through the procedure for their recommendations on impartial insurance companies is a good idea. Prepare a list of resources for the clients in advance. Eldercare.gov, Medicare.gov, the Medicare Rights Center, and State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) are excellent places to start when looking for information on Medicare. Advisors may also help clients troubleshoot a few critical circumstances in which clients are most likely to make mistakes by engaging in certain problem-solving activities.

Reaching the age of 65

When it comes to becoming eligible for Medicare, reaching age 65 is a prerequisite. However, precisely what this entails is shifting due to the growing number of people who continue to work into their 60s. Because of this, many of your customers are likely to inquire about Medicare with the same query: “Do I have to sign up when I am 65, or can I wait?” according to Votava. If a customer has a health plan through their employer that satisfies the requirements, they can put off enrolling in Medicare if they continue coverage as long as they stay in their job. This is on the condition that they have not begun receiving retirement payments from Social Security, which would result in their automatic membership at the age of 65 in Medicare Parts A and B, which cover medical and hospital insurance, respectively.

Your client’s company must have at least 20 employees to be eligible for the delay. According to Votava, the employment plan cannot be either a retiree plan or a COBRA plan. According to her statement, the plan’s prescription medication coverage must also satisfy the criteria of Medicare. Votava advised that if the individual already had the necessary coverage, they might put off enrolling in the program until a later date that offered a special registration period. “If none of those conditions apply to you, then you should enroll in Medicare,” Votava says.

According to Votava, one thing you will want to make sure your customers who are still working and are in their 60s think about is that Medicare coverage might sometimes be a better option than an employment plan. If a customer is going to be required to join up beyond the age of 65, they do not want to wait until the last minute as the penalties are expensive. The first registration period begins three months before a person turns 65 and continues until three months after that milestone birthday.

If your client misses that date and does not have creditable coverage, they will face a 10% surcharge on their premium for every 12 months they wait. J.P. Morgan Asset Management provided this information. “If someone goes into it with the mindset, ‘Hey, I’m in excellent condition,’ it may end up being extremely expensive,” Roy said. Electing to enroll for Medicare only once the client absolutely needs to could be a grave error, as “choosing to go that route will set [them] back a lot of money.”

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Disclosure:
Investment advisory services are offered through BWM Advisory, LLC (BWM). BWM is registered as an Investment Advisor located in Scottsdale, Arizona, and only conducts business in states where it is properly licensed, notice has been filed, or is excluded from notice filing requirements. This information is not a complete analysis of the topic(s) discussed, is general in nature, and is not personalized investment advice. Nothing in this article is intended to be investment advice. There are risks involved with investing which may include (but are not limited to) market fluctuations and possible loss of principal value. Carefully consider the risks and possible consequences involved prior to making any investment decision. You should consult a professional tax or investment advisor regarding tax and investment implications before taking any investment actions or implementing any investment strategies.

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