Helping Mom or Dad with Medicare decisions?
Things to know before choosing the right health insurance coverage
If you've suddenly found yourself in a caregiver role, you may be faced with making decisions about your loved one's Medicare coverage for the very first time. Along with meeting their immediate health care needs, you need to be aware of what Medicare covers and how supplemental insurance can help pick up those extra costs.
Many people think once they are on Medicare there are no more decisions to make, but that's not true according to Cristy Pritts, Individual and Senior Product Specialist for Your Health Insurance Shop located in Somerset, Pennsylvania.
"We advise everyone to take time to review their Medicare coverage every year between October 15 and December 7 when changes to Medicare can be made," says Pritts, adding "Not only do health plan coverages change every year, but your loved one's health status and prescription needs may have changed or they may have had a change in their financial situation."
Pritts points out that for most seniors, the seven week period is the only time of year when changes to Medicare coverage can be made.
If this is the first time that you find yourself making important health care decisions for a loved one, Pritts recommends talking with a professional. "Medicare can be complicated. An insurance specialist can help explain the system and customize a coverage plan that will help cover any copayments so out of pocket costs are minimized.
Choosing the right prescription plan is also important. A recent study conducted by the University Of Pennsylvania School of Law found that only 12 percent of seniors pick the Medicare prescription plan that is most cost effective for them.
So where do you start? To make your job easier, a caregiver should bring the following information to any meeting with an insurance specialist: a copy of your loved one's Power of Attorney, Medicare Card (which has the Medicare ID number and Part A & B effective date); current health insurance plan and prescription coverage along with a list of current medications and providers they see (doctors, specialists, preferred hospitals etc.). This gives the insurance specialist the information needed to recommend the right plan.
If you're new to the caregiver role and feeling a bit overwhelmed, Pritts recommends logging onto the National Caregivers Library, www.caregiverslibrary.org, which contains a wealth of helpful information on many topics.