If you’re an adult child of a Medicare-eligible family member, you might feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of them. You want to ensure they have the proper medical coverage and that their healthcare needs are appropriately managed.
An appropriate first step to take in caring for your elderly parents is ensuring that they have the proper Medicare health insurance coverage. A great way to do this is to contact The Medicare Family, which has been helping seniors find the best Medicare plans since 1980, and discuss the options. They can help you decide which plan best suits your parents’ needs and budget.
Read on for a guide to the basics of Medicare for adult children of elders assisting their parents with this program.
What is Medicare?
Medicare is a federal program that provides medical insurance for Americans 65 years old and older, disabled individuals, and others who meet specific requirements.
It consists of four parts: Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D.
Part A covers hospitalization, while Part B covers outpatient care. Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is a private health insurance plan that includes all the benefits of Parts A and B, plus additional benefits such as prescription drug coverage, gym memberships, and transportation. Lastly, Part D is a prescription drug benefit available through private insurance plans.
Medicare was designed to help with the expenses associated with illness, injury, disability, and end-of-life care. If your parents don’t have private health insurance through an employer group health plan, Medicare helps pay for doctor visits, hospital stays, and other medical costs.
Eligible beneficiaries do not pay a monthly premium for Part A. Part B costs $164.90 (2023) per month but may be adjusted for high earners. Premiums for Part C and Part D will vary depending on the type of coverage chosen.
Who is Eligible for Medicare?
It is important to understand the eligibility requirements for Medicare. To qualify, individuals must be 65 years old or older, as well as U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have lived in the United States for five years.
If your parent worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least ten years and are 65 years of age or older, they are eligible for Part A, free of premiums. At age 65, you can help them enroll in Part A without having to pay a premium if:
- Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board pays their retirement benefits.
- They qualify for Railroad or Social Security payments but have yet to apply.
- They held a government job that qualified for Medicare, or their spouse did.
How You Can Help?
Some simple ways to help your parents with Medicare include helping them to:
- Stay organized by keeping accurate records, such as copies of insurance forms and doctor’s notes,
- Become familiar with Medicare terminology,
- Ask questions and research resources,
- Set up automatic payments, and
- Stay connected with friends or family who may be in similar situations or who just want to offer emotional support during this time.
You can also remind them not to call into any TV commercials they see regarding this topic or to ever give any financial or medical information to anyone over the phone that they don’t know.
Getting The Most Out of Your Parents’ Coverage
It is crucial that you understand what services are covered under each part of Medicare to ensure that all necessary medical treatments and care expenses are included in your parents’ plan without additional out-of-pocket expenses from them or yourself as much as possible.
You should also consider supplementing Part A & B with a Part D prescription drug plan if needed and look into additional supplemental policies such as Medigap. Medigap plans can help cover costs not covered by Original Medicare, like copays and deductibles. Finally, make sure that any doctors or specialists treating your parent accepts Medicare payments, so there are no surprises when it comes time to pay the bills.
Gaining Legal Authority To Act On Their Behalf
At some point, you may need legal authority to act on their behalf regarding their medical decisions and financial matters related to Medicare and health insurance coverage. This also includes having access to medical records, speaking with doctors about treatment plans, and ensuring all directives are followed correctly.
This legal authority is especially important if your parent has been diagnosed with a degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and cannot make decisions on their own behalf due to cognitive impairment.
The most common way of obtaining this type of legal authority is by acquiring power of attorney (POA). Depending on your state’s laws, POA may require notarization and/or witnesses in order for it to be legally binding. Be sure you are familiar with your state’s requirements before signing any paperwork related to POA so that there are no issues down the line regarding its validity.
Without power of attorney, your parents will be required to sign every application at the time of enrollment and for any future changes made during annual enrollment periods.
Learn More About Medicare for Adult Children of Elders
Taking care of an elderly parent on Medicare can initially seem daunting, but knowing what steps need to be taken can make it much easier for both parties involved. Making sure all paperwork is completed correctly, staying organized, understanding Medicare terminology, and securing legal authority over pertinent healthcare decisions are all essential steps in managing this responsibility properly.
Medicare for adult children of elders is much easier to comprehend with a little help. Contact us or visit our website today to learn more about Medicare. With diligent effort and some help from The Medicare Family, adult children can successfully manage all aspects related to caring for their elderly parents on Medicare.