Love and marriage happen at any age, and as life expectancy stats continue to rise across the United States, many seniors are married to younger spouses. In any marriage it’s important to not only discuss plans for the future, but also to put those plans into action by having some type of medical insurance in place to provide coverage for unexpected healthcare costs. Although private insurance or employer-sponsored health insurance plans are the go-to option for many seniors, others rely on Medicare for medical insurance.
Medicare is Individual Coverage
Because Medicare is relied upon by so many seniors, there are plenty of recipients in situations where coverage for a younger spouse would be beneficial. Unfortunately, Medicare only covers the qualifying individual, meaning it does not offer any family benefits. The beneficiary of the Medicare plan is the sole entity who can receive benefits from the plan, and upon death, there are no benefits that transfer to a surviving spouse.
Age of a spouse doesn’t factor into this equation either. Whether a spouse is older or younger than a Medicare recipient, each plan is still issued only to the individual.
Exceptions That May Apply
It should be noted that Medicare benefits, while only directly applicable to the recipient of the plan, may be used in some cases that indirectly benefit a spouse. These situations may involve things like family counseling to address mental health concerns within a relationship or medical treatment that indirectly improves the quality of life for the spouse through improving the health of the Medicare recipient.
Understanding the Parts of Medicare
To know whether or not a spouse may indirectly benefit from Medicare, someone with Medicare coverage needs to understand the basics of the program’s benefits. Essentially, Medicare is broken down into parts, each of which apply to medical care in different settings. Medicare Part A provides coverage when a recipient is admitted to a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Medicare Part B applies when seeking outpatient care or while being treated through surgery or other medical procedures. Part C refers to enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan, and Part D offers coverage for prescription drugs that are self-administered.
Depending on the circumstances, a spouse may stand to benefit from one or all of the above. For example, a Medicare recipient who seeks treatment for a cardiovascular condition through his or her primary care physician under Medicare Part B may be able to begin taking recreational walks again with a spouse. This, in turn, may benefit the mental health of both spouses and lead to a closer relationship. Likewise, someone who requires prescription medication to treat depression may find that medications provided under Medicare Part D can improve a marriage relationship and increase well being for both spouses.
How Medicare Advantage May Help
A Medicare Advantage plan is one that includes the benefits of original Medicare as laid out by federal guidelines, but these types of plans often provide additional services and benefits provided by the issuing insurer. In some cases, these additional benefits may include things like discounts on family wellness plans at gyms or free or discounted flu shots for family members at specific pharmacy clinics. To learn more about the potential advantages such a plan may offer for yourself and your spouse, you are encouraged to speak with representatives from plan providers.