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American Seniors Must Prepare For Mental Health Costs in Retirement

medicare mental health

As you get older, healthcare becomes increasingly important — between preventative care and trips to the doctor to fix the  aches and pains that come with age, having a good health insurance plan is key to both personal health and financial health. While the focus is often on physical health and the care that accompanies it, it’s important that older Americans also not forget to take care of their mental health — but too often, costs get in the way, especially for those on Medicare. A study from The Commonwealth Fund found that seniors in the U.S. were more likely than those in 10 other countries to skip treatment for mental health issues because of costs.

If you want help planning for a retirement where you’ll have the ability to get all the care you need, consider working with a financial advisor.

Medicare Definition

Medicare is one of the cornerstones of the American social safety net, touching more people than perhaps any program other than Social Security. It’s a health insurance program for those who’ve reached 65 years of age, and it covers most medical procedures and visits needed by older Americans.

There are multiple tiers of coverage within Medicare. Medicare Part A covers inpatient procedures, nursing care, home health services and hospice care. Part B covers preventative care, medical devices and some outpatient prescription drugs. These two services are often collectively known as “Original Medicare.”

Medicare Part C is a less-used part of the program which allows people to get private insurance through Medicare. Finally, Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs.

Senior Mental Health in the U.S.

medicare mental health

The Commonwealth Fund’s study found that 21% of surveyed American seniors were diagnosed with a mental health condition. That’s the highest of the eleven peer nations included in this study.

Furthermore, 32% of Hispanic seniors were diagnosed, compared with 21% of white seniors and just 12% of Black seniors. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean that mental health issues run any higher in any particular demographic, just that the diagnosis rate is higher.

The study also found that 18% of surveyed American seniors felt emotional distress in the the past year, third overall in the study. Hispanic Americans outpaced all other nations, though, at 31%.

Mental Health Finances for U.S. Seniors

While American seniors are the most likely in this study to need mental health services, they are also the ones most likely to report trouble obtaining it. Around 26% of surveyed American seniors reported costs as an issue in getting mental health treatment, by far the highest in the study. By way of comparison, only 6% of Germans and Swedes reported such issues.

Additionally, 27% of American seniors with a mental health need reported financial hardship, again leading the study. Only 4% of seniors with mental health needs in the U.K. or the Netherlands reported financial hardship.

The Bottom Line

medicare mental health

Mental health is important for everyone, including older people. American seniors are among the most likely in a recent study to report they needed mental health care, but are also the most likely to run into financial problems getting the care they need.

Retirement Planning Tips

  • A financial advisor can help you plan for all potential needs in retirement. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • One option for paying for mental health care needs is a health savings account.

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