If you have aging parents you will likely be conscious of their healthcare requirements. Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) is a federal initiative that provides eligible individuals with insurance for hospital visits and outpatient services. Having this insurance can give you the peace of mind that your parents can access healthcare without a large financial burden.
In addition to Original Medicare, there is Part C and Part D. Part C is also referred to as a Medicare Advantage plan and covers Part A, Part B and usually Part D, as well as other benefits such as vision and dental. Part D helps to reduce the price of prescription medications, and this is usually an optional extra.
If you are unsure what your parents needs will be and whether they will qualify for Medicare, here are the basics:
Eligibility for Medicare
When are you eligible for Medicare? Those over the age of 65 are usually eligible for Part A and Part B as long as they meet a few basic criteria. Applicants need to be a legal US citizen or have been living as a permanent resident for at least five years.
There are some exceptions where people under 65 can be eligible for Original Medicare. Someone who is permanently disabled and is receiving benefits will likely meet the criteria. Those with end-stage renal disease or Lou Gehrig’s Disease may also be able to sign up for Medicare, regardless of age.
Medicare Advantage and Part D plans can be accessed via a health insurance company as long as the applicant is eligible for Original Medicare.
The Application Enrollment Period
If you or your parents are signing up for Medicare, this can be time-sensitive. There are seven months to apply without penalties and restrictions, and these surround a person’s 65th birthday.
Enrollment should occur either three months before a person turns 65, during their birthday month or within the three months after. Each year between October and December members have the chance to modify their benefits.
What is Covered With Medicare
Medicare Part A offers coverage for hospital stays and any related expenses that may occur there. For example, meals, surgery, rehabilitation, and medical supplies.
Medicare Part B is for preventative care, doctor’s visits, vaccinations, essential preventative care, and mental health.
Medicare Advantage Plans will vary depending on providers but may include dental, vision services, hearing, and fitness. They may include Part D, which reduces the cost of prescriptions, or this can be ordered separately.
The Application Process
When you or your aging parents are ready to apply for Medicare, it can be done through your local Social Security office or online. It is a short sign up, but identifying documents will need to be provided. These include a Social Security card, birth certificate or proof of citizenship, and W-2 form.
If your parents already have Original Medicare, it may be worth discussing a Medicare Advantage plan with them. This will give them more flexibility to maintain their overall health with fewer limitations.
Caring for Your Aging Parents
Helping your parents maintain their health starts with a good health care plan. If they are eligible for Original Medicare this is a good place to start and can be enhanced with other features such as a Medicare Advantage Plan from a private, Medicare-approved insurer.
Remember, everyone is unique and a one size fits all option may not always be the best fit.