Your senior years are supposed to be the time when you’re free to finally relax and enjoy life. But with the health issues that often accompany older age, from undergoing treatments for various things to affording elder care supplies, this is sometimes easier said than done. And if you don’t have affordable health coverage, expensive treatments and out of pocket payments can seriously take the shine out of your golden years. But while you might think it’s too late to buy health insurance now, don’t worry, there are plenty of options available to seniors. Here are 7 key factors to consider when buying senior health insurance coverage:

Premiums

Your insurance premium is the amount of money you are required to pay each month for your health insurance. The cost of your premiums depends on a number of different factors including your age, medical history, and the amount of coverage you intend to purchase. Other factors include health and lifestyle factors such as:

  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Heavy drinking
  • Weight/obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Certain cancers

Entry Age

Entry age refers to the maximum age at which you are allowed to buy health insurance coverage. However, it’s important to keep in mind that each insurance company has its own requirements, including entry age. There is no fixed entry age across the board, so if you get denied because of age, it’s not the end of the road. There are also specific senior healthcare plans available for people ages 60-80.

Pre-existing Conditions

Since many pre-existing medical conditions have high chances of resulting in claims, insurance companies typically don’t cover them at all, or might only do so up to a given period. If they do offer coverage, they will most likely require additional testing before offering to cover your pre-existing condition or illness, and in most cases your pre-existing condition will result in having to pay higher monthly premiums for your health coverage.

Coverage Amount

The amount of coverage you buy will affect how much you pay for your premiums. However, it is important to purchase enough coverage to ensure you are fully protected, because in some cases being underinsured is almost the same as being uninsured. Your coverage amount depends on your specific circumstances and medical history, so when deciding how much coverage you need, you should consider things like future hospitalization costs, your risk of medical emergencies in the future, and your personal finances and savings.

Waiting Period

Every insurance policy includes a waiting period, which means your coverage does not start right away. From the moment you buy your policy, to the moment it kicks in can typically last anywhere from 30 days to one year. Usually, the longer the waiting period is, the less expensive your premiums will be. However, some insurers will allow you to make a claim during the waiting period if the claim includes hospitalization due to an accident.

In-Network Hospitals

Every insurance company comes with a network of hospitals that they work with exclusively. This means that if you are sick and injured, all treatments and procedures that take place in your in-network hospital will be covered by your insurer. So, when looking for coverage, it’s important to make sure you have easy access to one or more of your insurer’s in-network facilities.

Type of Coverage

There are many different options available when it comes to health insurance. But, with senior healthcare, the most popular option is individual coverage. The other options include family plans with add-on coverage for seniors. These types of policies can be risky because the premiums and renewal ages on these add-on plans usually depend on the eldest member that is covered on the entire family policy. This means that when the renewal age is breached, everyone on the family plan will lose their insurance coverage.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is no single perfect policy for all seniors. Every company is different and every plan comes with its own set of pros and cons. But, don’t let this deter you from seeking coverage, the last thing you want is to become sick or injured with no way to pay for your treatment, medications and home care medical equipment. So shop around and talk to a professional to see what plan works within your budget and needs to find the policy that’s just right for you.