Does Medicare pay for final expenses and funerals?

2 veterans chat over a cup of coffee.

Many of us spend years planning for our life in retirement. Planning for our deaths, however, isn’t quite as much fun.

The simple fact is that Medicare coverage ends, well, when your life does. And Social Security’s death benefit is a mere $255. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral in 2016 was $8,508, not including cemetery, monument or market costs.1

Relying on retirement assets left to your estate to pay the bill is 1 option. Purchasing a “final expenses” insurance policy offers another.

What is final expense insurance?

A final expense policy is a type of life insurance that's designed to eliminate any financial loose ends when you pass away. These policies feature a guaranteed death benefit that's payable to your beneficiary.

The proceeds of a final expense policy can be used to cover funeral, cremation or burial costs, as well as outstanding medical bills, credit card debt or any other end-of-life expenses.

Generally, final expense insurance is available to people aged 50 to 85, although some insurance companies may set the cutoff at age 80. Depending on the insurer you purchase the policy from, you may have the choice between term and permanent coverage, with benefit amounts typically ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.

Benefits of a final expense policy

There are several advantages to adding a final expense policy into your retirement plan. First, having this type of coverage can keep your spouse from having to tap into your retirement savings to pay for final expenses. That's important if you're concerned about your spouse having enough assets to maintain his or her lifestyle after you're gone.

Another benefit is the flexibility that these policies offer. For example, you can choose between a term or whole-life policy and choose a specific dollar amount that you'd like to designate for final expenses.

If you've made your funeral arrangements well in advance, you can purchase enough coverage so there are no surprises for your spouse.

Do you need final expense insurance?

Whether a final expense policy makes sense ultimately depends on the details of your financial situation. If you've saved enough to cover these costs, or you have an existing life insurance policy, then final expense insurance may not be necessary.

On the other hand, if there's a possibility that your retirement savings may fall short of your target number, this type of coverage could help reduce the financial burden for your spouse. Social Security does offer some benefits for spouses, opens new window, but they’re somewhat limited.2

Look at all the angles in terms of how much you have saved for retirement. Figuring out how much you expect your final expenses to be is helpful for creating a more complete picture of your long-term financial needs. Perhaps a final expense policy fits in.

See Humana’s Medicare plan options

Sources

  1. “Statistics,” National Funeral Directors Association, last accessed May 10, 2019, nfda.org/news/statistics, opens new window.
  2. “How Your Spouse Earns Social Security Survivors Benefits,” Social Security Administration, last accessed May 10, 2019, ssa.gov/planners/survivors/ifyou7.html, opens new window.

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