Retirement is an exciting time. You may be thinking about spending more time with your friends and family, or finally getting the chance to travel. However, you should also be thinking about health benefits.
Hospital employees need to secure health benefits before they retire.
Retirees May Lose Their Benefits
If you already have a benefits plan through your hospital, you may assume you’ll get to keep it after you retire. That’s not always the case. Retiree benefits packages have been on the decline in recent years. Healthcare costs are increasing, and in response, some companies are cutting back on their retiree benefits. A poll conducted by Mercer in 2015 found that 22 percent of retiree plans were reduced to cut costs. Another 21 percent of companies surveyed were thinking about making additional changes in the next three years.
This means hospital employees’ health benefits might not be safe. Between now and your retirement, your plan could be reduced. You could be left without adequate coverage for your post-retirement healthcare needs.
Many Canadians underestimate how much health services will cost during retirement. While you may assume Canadian healthcare is free, there are plenty of services that aren’t covered by government plans. Without the security provided by an employer plan, these services need to be paid for out of pocket. Long-term care, home care, hearing aids, physiotherapy, and other services can be quite expensive without coverage.
Consequences of Losing Health Coverage
Losing your health coverage when you retire could have a major effect on your finances. For people on a fixed income, unexpected health costs can be hard to manage. Ontario residents between 18 and 80 spend an average of $1,561 on medical extras every year, reports the Toronto Star. Since lower spending by younger people drags down the average, you may end up spending more than this during your retirement.
To pay for treatments, uninsured seniors may need to draw from their retirement savings or take out a reverse mortgage. This can add financial stress at a time in your life when you deserve to be stress-free and relaxed. People who aren’t able to pay for health services may need to go without treatment. Not receiving necessary treatments can lead to worse health outcomes.
How to Get Health Coverage in Retirement
Fortunately, you don’t need to be uninsured during your retirement. While you may lose your current health benefits when you retire, there are other options. Before you retire from your current hospital role, you can apply for voluntary health benefits through HCP. As long as you’re eligible and apply while you’re currently employed at a hospital, you’re guaranteed to be accepted.
Retirees can join HCP’s Plan 65+ coverage. This plan provides extended health care coverage for hospital retirees. Extended health care coverage includes paramedical services like physiotherapy, podiatry, and massage therapy. It also provides some coverage for vision care, like prescription eye glasses or contact lenses. Coverage for hearing aids, medical alert bracelets, and medical items like wheelchairs are also included in the plan.
If you’re interested in dental coverage, you can choose to add it for an additional fee. Dental coverage is available at two levels: basic and enhanced. Basic coverage includes dental services like regular checkups and fillings. Enhanced coverage includes more complicated services like dentures or crowns.
Applying for these retiree health benefits is easy. You just need to fill out an application form and mail it in. If you want to be considered for a higher level of coverage (which is completely optional), you can also fill out a Statement of Health. This form provides information about your health conditions.
Now that your retirement is on the horizon, you may be worrying about your health benefits. By planning ahead and applying for retiree health benefits through HCP, hospital employees can secure their futures.