Serving as the primary caregiver to a loved one is hard enough. The last thing you need to worry about is a whole bunch of complicated and confusing insurance rules. But that’s just what you’ll get. In addition to the medical support and practical assistance that you provide for your loved one, chances are that at least part of the responsibility falls upon you to navigate the intricacies of Medicare coverage as well. If so, you also know how important it is to ensure that your loved one receives all the coverage to which he or she is entitled. Don’t let Medicare’s jargon and minutiae throw you for a loop. In spite of the very particular language that insurance providers and lawmakers love to use when designing your coverage, there are a few basic tips you can follow to make sure you are navigating the Medicare system effectively.
Choosing the Right Plan Medicare.gov identifies some of the most common coverage plans available under Medicare.These range from minimal to comprehensive. The leading plans include Medicare Part A (Hospital insurance), Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance), Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) and Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage). These coverage options are available in a number of combinations. More extensive details on coverage permutations are available at Medicare.gov. Be sure that your loved one is covered by the appropriate plan and that you fully understand its coverage implications.
Checking Compatibility Medicare is designed to work in coordination with some of the existing health coverage plans that your loved one may already be carrying. Many seniors enjoy some portion of coverage from Military Benefits, Veterans’ benefits or continuing coverage from a former employer. Be sure that you understand the ways in which these various plans do or do not work together.
Changing Coverage Sometimes, it becomes necessary or preferable to alter the terms of one’s coverage. Your loved one may determine that the current plan is not meeting a broad enough range of needs or, alternately, that the cost of the plan is unnecessarily high. According to Medicare.gov, every Fall season offers a period during which beneficiaries may make changes to their coverage options. As a caregiver, you will want to review the terms of the current Medicare plan on an annual basis to ensure that its conditions remain suitable to the needs of your loved one.
Taking Advantage of Assistance Programs Medicare coverage comes with a wide range of support services. For instance, the Extra Help program provides prescription drug coverage for little or no cost to those with limited income or resources. Additionally, under Medicare Part B, numerous Free Preventative and Screening Services are available, including behavioral therapy for cardiovascular disease, diabetes screenings and mammograms. Familiarize yourself with the considerable array of free preventative services included with Medicare coverage. In addition to making the most out of a treatment plan, taking advantage of these services may significantly improve your loved one’s health prospects and quality of life.
Seeking Out Educational Resources In recognition of the critical role played by caregivers in our healthcare network, UnitedHealthcare and the Caregiver Action Network (CAN) launched the Medicare Made Clear initiative in 2006, distributing more than 16 million copies of their educational guidebooks to beneficiaries and caregivers. The goal of this and other like-minded initiatives is to help demystify and disentangle the experience of navigating Medicare. Do your research and use all the resources at your disposal to ensure that your loved one is getting the coverage he or she needs and deserves.