From A to D: Understanding the Basics of Medicare
News On top of all things family caregivers do – like manage medications, arrange doctor appointments, and handle the finances – sometimes they are called upon to help their elderly loved ones find the best Medicare plan.
On top of all things family caregivers do— like manage medications, arrange doctor appointments, and handle the finances – sometimes they are called upon to help their elderly loved ones find the best Medicare plan.
Medicare is never easy. In fact, the Medicare program has four parts— A, B, C, and D— and no one said any of the parts were easy to understand. No wonder most people over the age of 60 find Medicare confusing.
"Remember, Medicare isn’t one-size-fits-all: there are many different options and plans."
Family caregivers, however, might find that they need to understand Medicare all of a sudden, or at least learn about it very quickly. Many baby boomers today are helping aging relatives make Medicare decisions. So how does a family caregiver evaluate and choose Medicare coverage that best meets their loved one’s needs?
The first thing you want to do is figure out what your loved one’s needs are and what kind of coverage they currently have. Remember, Medicare isn’t one-size-fits-all: there are many different options and plans. And right now, during the Medicare Open Enrollment period, you can make changes to your loved one’s coverage to best meet their needs.
Original Medicare, which is Part A and Part B, gives you basic coverage from the government for doctor visits, overnight hospital stays and preventative services (like flu shots). It is accepted by almost all providers and offers low or no out-of-pocket copay.
Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage
If your loved one wants a standalone drug plan to add to their coverage, Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, or Part D is for them. It is offered through private insurance companies and covers prescription drugs with little or no copays, deductibles and costs.
Medicare Advantage Plan
A Medicare Advantage Plan, or Part C, is also offered by private insurance companies and combines the coverage of Original Medicare and may include Part D coverage with extra benefits. It also limits your out-of-pocket deductibles and costs.
Medicare Supplement Insurance
If your loved one wants coverage for approved expenses not covered by Original Medicare, this is something you want to explore. Plan benefits vary, but hospital services are only covered with the approval of Medicare. Copays and deductibles also vary.
To figure out the best plan options, you can go to Medicare.gov. You can also visit your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) office to speak with a representative who can offer one-on-one support, answer your questions and help you understand your health care choices.