As the adult child of aging parents on Medicare, were you aware that Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment Period begins in October? In fact, during this enrollment period every year, Medicare health and drug plans may make changes to costs, coverage, providers, and pharmacies in their networks. You can support your aging parents by helping them review their health care coverage plans for any changes, as well as, any changes to their health in the past year. Between plan coverage changes and their own health condition changes, it is wise to revisit health plans during the annual open enrollment period.
The first way to support your aging parents is to ask them if they have each received an “annual notice of change” letter from their Medicare plan. These letters were due to them by the end of September. In their benefits letter, Medicare explains all the changes coming in the new year, including coverage and costs such as premiums, deductibles, and copays. If they are unable to locate their copies of the letter, do not worry. They can request a copy when they just click here to visit the Medicare website.
The second way you can support your aging parents is to start evaluating their current plans. We recommend starting this evaluation by reviewing, for each parent, their medical expenses over the last six months. Also, look at a list of their doctors they see regularly and their medications they take regularly. Now in order to get an accurate picture of whether each parent has a Medicare plan that is the best fit for him or her, you need to compare more than just the premiums. You need to also review their medical care for the last six months and whether there have been any changes in their health that would impact their current Medicare plan.
A third support for your parents would be looking into what additional plans are in their area. Take a look at The Medicare Plan Finder on the Medicare website. This online tool is from the government to help you support your aging parents by selecting and comparing plans. Once you enter their zip code and details about their medications and whether they receive them by mail, you can compare plans available in their area. You can also try the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, which offer free local counseling to enrollees.
Finally, a very important support for you and your aging parents is to locate an experienced Florida elder law firm. Elder law attorneys are very knowledgeable about the Medicare program. Medicare can be essential to elder law planning because premiums for some parts of Medicare are based on your modified adjusted gross income (or MAGI) from two years ago. MAGI also adds in capital gains, Social Security, and required minimum distributions from individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans. While you cannot change your income, you can plan for 2022’s premiums.
In addition, you may also want to look at Medicare plan information by comparing plans online or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or visiting Medicare.gov. For more information and answers to your questions on how to get the best protection for your aging parents now to ensure they have their elder law costs planned for, our office is here to help.