It’s a common joke for sitcom writers: Americans need to have fairly comprehensive medical insurance, whereas their neighbors to the north in Canada enjoy the benefits of free, universal healthcare, and in fact, an entire episode of The Simpsons involved a scam to import medicine illegally acquired for free in Canada, and then sell it to elderly residents back in the US. The cost of healthcare is something that weighs upon all citizens, particularly as we get older.
What are the Golden Years?
People are living longer and longer, and what was once thought of as old is no longer considered as such. The iconic 80’s sitcom The Golden Girlsdepicted a group of friends living together in their golden years, which in the series was when they were in their mid 50’s- the same age Madonna is now while still gyrating on stage to cheering crowds across the world; all while dating a man thirty years her junior! Old age comes to us all, even though it now seems to come later, and we need to prepare for the inevitable need for healthcare at this point of life. Do as much homework as possible in order to make an informed decision, and plan for all eventualities, as unpleasant as they might be to think about.
Are You Getting the Best Deal?
Of course most of us will already have comprehensive health insurance, but it’s important to not be complacent and assume that it’s still the best option for us as we grow older. In the UK you don’t have to worry about it because of the NHS but regulations of US and Australian health insurance, for example, make it necessary for you to choose the best health plan. A semi-annual review of your policy and just exactly what it covers is an extremely good idea. Will your policy continue to cover you as you get older and your needs change? You might find yourself better off switching to a more specialized provider- a company that specifically caters to your age bracket. Of course, don’t make the decision without telling your existing provider- they might offer you a much better deal (in terms of both cost and benefits) in order to keep your business.
Have a Difficult Conversation
It’s important that your loved ones know exactly what you want to happen in a worst case scenario- the level of care you want if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. Nobody wants to think about these things, but it’s vital to have this conversation now, so that the tone of what is appropriate has already been set. You may even want to install a loved one with Power of Attorney- allowing them to legally make decisions for you if you’re ever not in a position to make those decisions for yourself.
While our golden years might not be like those of Madonna or even The Golden Girls, it’s important to realize that some day they will be upon us, and that we will enjoy them a lot more if we know that all outcomes have been planned for.