What You Need to Know About Health Insurance for Your Aging Parents

senior man with family

senior man with family

When you were young, your parents were there to take care of you. Now that they are older, you may be wondering how you can look after them. If you are worried about their health, Medicare could be part of the solution. While this subject could feel overwhelming for your ageing parents, you may be able to help them through the process.

To make sure you have the right information, we explain the basics of Medicare and how it could benefit your parents.

Medicare Eligibility

At the age of 65 most permanent U.S. citizens will be eligible for Medicare. This is called Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and while it is suitable for most seniors, personal circumstances such as work status can affect eligibility.

Medicare is a cheaper alternative for seniors than traditional insurance. For those who are already receiving Social Security benefits, enrollment will happen automatically. Otherwise, those approaching their 65th birthday will need to apply.

Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D

Original Medicare has two parts, A and B. Part A covers hospital expenses, and Part B reduces the cost of general medical and doctor expenses. Those who are eligible for Original Medicare can access Medicare Part C and Part D.

Part C is Medicare Advantage and combines your plan into one. It will generally cover extras such as dental and vision. Part D covers prescription medications and is often included in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medical Advantage HMO or PPO

To keep premiums low, a Medicare Advantage plan will give your ageing parents more healthcare options. The plan can be either an HMO (health maintenance organization), or a PPO (preferred provider organization) [1].

A Medicare Advantage HMO Plan gives you access to a network of preferred healthcare professionals. One primary care physician is selected and he or she will be the first point of call for any consultations or referrals. This can be a cost effective choice with low monthly premiums, and rates could be as low as $0.

Medicare Advantage PPO plan is more flexible than a HMO. Members can select one primary care physician but they won’t need a referral to visit a specialist. As long as the healthcare professional is in the network, the cost will be low. If your ageing parents have a doctor outside of the network, they can still see them, but this will sometimes have a higher fee.

Why Part D is Recommended

Medicare Part D is recommended regardless of whether or not your parents need medication now. Health can change quickly, and most people will require prescriptions during their senior years. Being prepared could relieve some stress your parents may be feeling. Original Medicare doesn’t automatically come with Part D, but this can be added on as a separate plan.

Alternatively, an HMO or PPO Medicare Advantage plan will usually come with Part D.

The Last Word

Medicare can greatly reduce your parents medical expenses. You may like to combine health insurance into one simple monthly bill with a Medicare Advantage plan. This can make it more manageable and give them a greater range of coverage.

Before applying, think about what they might need now and in the future. Will they need extras such as dental and prescription coverage? Original Medicare is a good start, but for some it isn’t enough. This is where a Medicare Advantage HMO or PPO can fill the gap.

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