How to help your parents through Medicare

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It doesn’t matter if you’re the primary caregiver for your parents or just want to help them make the best decision possible; helping them understand Medicare is important.

At first glance, Medicare seems complicated. However, you want to ensure your parents have the right level of coverage and are still staying cost-effective as they progress through retirement.

Thankfully, there are numerous tips to help you and your loved ones navigate through Medicare to find the right level of coverage.

  1. Learn The Different Parts

People can get Medicare automatically. However, your parents likely have to sign up if they’re 65 or almost 65 and aren’t receiving any social security benefits.

However, Medicare has different parts. The two main types to know are:

  • Medicare Part A: Covers hospital care and services like nursing care and hospice care.
  • Medicare Part B: Covers outpatient care costs, like preventative care and home healthcare.

There’s also Medicare Part C, which relies on private insurance plans to provide the same benefits as Part A and B. Similarly, Medicare Part D helps cover prescription costs.

Medicare Part A doesn’t normally cost your parents anything if one or both of them paid Medicare taxes during employment. As for Part B, C, and D, your parents pay a premium that often depends on their annual income and how comprehensive coverage is.

Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage plans, are quite common since they can help cover some of the gaps of Medicare and ensure your parents are fully covered. However, you still need to consider the premiums and co-pay expenses that come with this type of plan.

This might seem confusing, but start by reviewing the Medicare.gov website for a breakdown of what each type covers.

  1. Keep An Open Dialogue

As you review Medicare options with your parents, keep as open of a dialogue as possible.

You need to find the right Medicare coverage to suit their healthcare needs. Of course, you want to respect their privacy as much as possible. However, you also need to be on the same page about their in-patient and out-patient needs, current healthcare requirements, and how to ensure their coverage stays relevant as they age.

  1. Consult A Medicare Insurance Broker

Another way to help your parents with their Medicare needs is to consult an insurance broker.

As mentioned, different plans have varying levels of coverage and premiums. Medicare insurance brokers are helpful because they can guide your family through the options, assist with paperwork, and make sure coverage is comprehensive for your parents’ needs.

  1. Review Policies Annually

If your parents are on a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan, they receive a statement each year detailing changes in coverages, premiums, and overall benefits.

It’s important to review this carefully. If coverage changes and your parents lose vital coverage, it’s time to change plans. Shopping around for different plans can also help save money, so it’s an important annual practice even if coverage is what your parents need.

  1. Become an Authorized Representative

If you need more insight into your parents’ medical needs, you can become an authorized representative. When a Medicare beneficiary chooses an authorized representative, that person can do things like choose new Medicare coverage, deal with claims and payment, and access the beneficiary’s personal health information.

If your parents require more assistance as they age, this is the best way to ensure you can legally assist them with their needs.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to communicate with your parents. As their needs change, you want to adapt and change their Medicare coverage to suit their needs. If you’re all on the same page about medical requirements and wishes, navigating the complex world of Medicare becomes that much easier.