Every autumn we begin receiving questions about Medicare open enrollment from the adult children we work with in Illinois and Missouri. Because many of them are not yet eligible for Medicare, they need advice on how to help their aging parent prepare for the yearly open enrollment period.
This year we are sharing our 5 best recommendations on how to help a parent prepare:
1.Begin by managing the open enrollment paperwork that is likely arriving in the mail each day. It may seem overwhelming, but waiting until a few weeks go by will only make it worse. So try to take time every few days to read and make notes on anything new that is delivered.
2.Pull out all of your loved one’s co-pay receipts and other expenses from the past year. Have they been prescribed a new medication that their current plan doesn’t pay much on? Maybe another plan would be better for their needs if they have high out-of-pocket expenses. Also consider if they have moved or are staying with you a lot of the time. Are their providers still convenient? If not, are better options for them part of their plan?
3.The National Council on Aging (NCOA) likes to recommend families review what they call the four “C’s”: Cost, coverage, convenience and customer service. How happy is your loved one with each of these?
4.Ask for help if you need it. Each state offers unbiased advice through SHIP (State Health Insurance Program). Just be sure to start this process early so you have enough time to schedule an appointment with one of your state’s experts. You can learn more about who to contact in your area by visiting the Medicare site.
5.If your loved one lives on a low income, they may qualify for additional assistance. Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, known as Extra Help, and Medicare Savings are two options you might want to explore.