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Resources To Help Aging Parents With Health Insurance | News, Sports, Jobs



Question: I am helping my parents manage their home and related issues. I am learning about and working with their health insurance right now. What resources can you recommend?

Answer: In my role as a Geriatric Care Manager I help older individuals understand and manage the many opportunities and challenges they may experience. I also work with families to help them better understand options and situations that their loved ones are in. Thank you for your help and making your parents more successful in their living situation.

Many families are comfortable using the internet to search for online resources for solutions to their situation. So I will concentrate on those resources.

Learning about Medicare and other health insurance options the best resource is www.medicare.gov . You can create a username and password for each of your parents. This website enables you to evaluate insurance alternatives available to them, review Medicare Summary Notices (MSN) and even print out or order a new Medicare card. The website has become a very useful tool for almost everything related to Medicare.

The Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) introduction in 2006 marked the beginning of the Medicare website as the go to resource for anyone comfortable using the internet to evaluate Medicare insurance options.

Another useful resource to learn about Medicare is www.medicarerights.org . This is the Medicare Rights Center, which is an independent organization helping those with Medicare. This website provides useful tutorials and links to help you better understand Medicare and the products that go along with Medicare.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) also has a website which could be useful to you. The www.ssa.gov website allows you to access proof of income and other related information. This information may be useful to you as you assist your parents with their finances.

The www.ssa.gov website has tighter security protocols to establish the login and password than most other websites. You will need your parents’ to be present while setting up their initial login and password. The questions and protocols required to set up a login would be almost impossible for anyone but your parents to be able to answer or work through.

Most secondary insurance companies and Medicare Advantage Plans also have their own websites. These websites can be used for research or used by you or your parents if they have that insurance product. This provides you access to the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) as well as billing information related to premiums they may pay.

I recommend clients should compare any medical or hospital bills against their insurance EOB’s before they send any payment. The amount you are paying should correspond to what the insurance company says you owe.

Providers often include a statement like “due upon receipt”. I recommend waiting until you receive your MSN’s and EOB’s to be sure you owe the amount they say you owe. Having a login and password for your insurance company’s website allows you almost immediate access to this information.

Many health care providers also have websites allowing you to access your medical information and billing information. This may allow you to pay bills online, review claims, review reports and other medical related information. This is a useful tool when cross checking medication prescribed versus medications in the household. The pharmacy may have a website where you can track refills, and payments for medication. The insurance carriers’ website allows you access to MSN’s, EOB’s and other coverage related information.

Putting all these insurance resources together will make managing their situation a little easier for you. Of course there is the issue of maintaining a good system for tracking and remembering logins and passwords.

Finding the system that works the best for you and your parents is most important. I don’t want to add work to the very important task you are helping with.

Thank you again for all you do to keep your parents successful where they want to be.

Senior Life Matters is a community based program sponsored by Lutheran Jamestown. For questions and concerns or to reach Janell Sluga, GCMC, call 716-720-9797 or email SLM@lutheran-jamestown.org.



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