How to Help Parents Navigate Medicare

How can you help your parents with Medicare?

There’s a lot to consider on how to help your parents navigate health care in retirement… Medicare is complex and often requires many hours of research. This is why consulting with an award-winning, independent broker like Medigap Seminars might be the best option for caregivers.

Meanwhile, here are some things you can do:

  1. The first thing you will want to accomplish is to determine which Medicare Plan they have. There are three ways you can do this.

    First, ask them to show you the Medicare card they use when they see a doctor. If it is the red, white and blue card with their Medicare number and Parts A & B start dates, they have Original Medicare. If they show you a card from an insurance company with either HMO or PPO designations, they have a Medicare Advantage Plan.

    Second, they should have a free MyMedicare.gov account that will provide a history of their medical care and prescriptions. It will also show which insurance they are using.

    Lastly, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE. The Medicare representativeGrandparents will need your parents permission to speak with you. They should be able to answer all your questions regarding which plan you parent has.

  2. To understand the difference between Medicare Advantage Plans please watch these two videos: Medicare Explained & Medicare Explained; the secrets of who and why.

  3. Encourage them to stay socially engaged, participate in community activities, and maintain a strong support network. An elderly person who isn’t feeling lonely and depressed will be healthier.

  4. Consider a Medigap plan which can help them cover out-of-pocket expenses. Call us if you need help choosing the right plan.

  5. Medicare Advantage health plans may change from year to year. Set up a plan with a Medicare expert to review those plans annually during the Annual enrollment from October 15 through December 07.

  6. Consider whether you’ll need to or be able to help your parents financially, how much, and for how long. Normally, adult children are not financially obligated to pay for their parents’ care.

What to focus on when helping an aging parent choose Medicare coverage?

Help your parent assess their current and potential future medical needs. Consider their ongoing health conditions, required medications, and any upcoming surgeries or treatments. This will guide you in selecting a plan that provides adequate coverage for their specific healthcare needs.

Make sure not to get distracted by shiny new objects like gym memberships, gift cards, etc.

Focus on what truly matters.

  1. What are the health benefits offered?

  2. What can they afford? Are they struggling financially?

  3. What health concerns do they have? What health issues are anticipated?

  4. As you parents age, will they likely require caregivers?

  5. Will they have solid insurance if they have cancer or diabetes or are hospitalized?

  6. Do they have proper drug coverage? The right drug plan is very important. Prescription drugs can be very expensive.

  7. Keep a list of your parents medications.

  8. Can they see any doctor that accepts Medicare (with Original Medicare Parts A & B and/or Medigap) or are they limited to in-network health providers (with Medicare Part C)?

  9. Do they already have a long-term relationship with a physician and does the physician participate in their plan?

Why is it important for aging parents to enroll in Medicare on time?

Medicare has specific enrollment periods, and if they miss these deadlines without qualifying for a special enrollment period and without creditable coverage, they may face permanent late enrollment penalties.

Delaying enrollment could leave your aging parent without health insurance, exposing you to potentially high medical costs and creating further health issues.

Enrolling on time also allows your elderly parents access preventive services, screenings, and vaccinations at no cost.

During your initial enrollment period for Medicare, you have guaranteed acceptance into Medicare Supplement (Medigap) policies, regardless of pre-existing conditions. If you miss this period, you might face more stringent medical underwriting requirements and could be denied coverage or charged higher premiums.

Some Medicare plans, like Medicare Advantage and Part D (drug coverage) plans, have specific annual enrollment periods. If your aging parents miss these periods, they might have to wait until the next enrollment period to make changes or enroll in a different plan.

Can my elderly parents delay enrolling in Medicare?

Aging parents can often delay enrolling in Medicare without penalties in certain situations, such as having employer-sponsored health coverage while actively working. Such insurance is considered a “creditable” alternative to Medicare.

What if my aging parents can’t afford health care costs?

There are several steps you can take to help them navigate this challenging situation:

Explore Low-Income Programs

Depending on their financial situation, your parents may qualify for Medicaid, a government program that provides healthcare coverage to low-income individuals and families. Medicaid coverage and rules vary from state to state.

Medicare Savings Programs

Some states offer Medicare Savings Programs that help cover Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance for individuals with limited income.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

If your parents have limited income and resources, they might qualify for SSI, a federal program that provides financial assistance to elderly and disabled individuals.

Prescription Drug Assistance Programs

There are programs that offer assistance with the cost of prescription medications. Medicare’s Extra Help program is one such program that helps with Part D prescription drug costs.

Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations

There are many nonprofit organizations that provide financial assistance, other resources, and support to seniors for healthcare expenses.

Where can you or elderly parents find independent information on Medicare coverage?

The official website of the U.S. government’s Medicare program is a primary source of Medicare information.

1-800-MEDICARE

This toll-free number provides assistance and information about Medicare.

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

Each state has a SHIP that offers free counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries.

Medicare & You Handbook

This annual publication is provided by Medicare and is available in print and online.

Nonprofit Organizations

Organizations like AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) provide information and additional resources for seniors, including guidance on Medicare and healthcare coverage.

Government Agencies

Agencies like the Social Security Administration can provide information about Medicare enrollment and eligibility.

Independent Insurance brokers like Medigap Seminars

We have a wealth of experience, helpful articles, and videos on all things Medicare. We started our company with the mission to give you the best, unbiased advice on Medicare coverage, help you save money, and provide much-needed support… For example, we are concerned to see many other agents pushing Medicare Advantage plans – simply because they offer the best commission. Our agents will look out for your best interests and search for the best benefits for your family members.

Thinking about how to help your parents navigate health care in retirement can be stressful and time-consuming. The open enrollment time for Medicare (Oct 15th) is almost upon us… Take the first important step today and reach out to us for assistance!

Matthew Claassen, CMT and CEO of Medigap Seminars Insurance Agency. Medigap Seminars is an award winning premier national Medicare Insurance Brokerage, ranked among the top in the U.S.A. Matthew is considered a leading national expert on Medicare and Social Security. Mr. Claassen is a distinguished member of the Forbes Business council, an invitation only organization of business leaders and entrepreneurs. He and his team have received awards from many of the countries largest insurance companies including Mutual of Omaha, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, United American, United Healthcare and others. His videos have become the most popular Medicare educational videos on YouTube with millions of views. As a financial analyst Matthew lead a team of researchers to win the 2009 Best Equity Research & Strategy Award from The Technical analysis magazine.

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