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Resources to help aging parents with health insurance | News, Sports, Jobs


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

Answer: In my role as a geriatric care manager, I help seniors understand and manage the many opportunities and challenges they may face. I also work with families to help them better understand the options and situations their loved ones find themselves in. Thank you for your help and for making your parents more successful in their life situation.

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

To learn more 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 allows you to evaluate the insurance alternatives available to them, view Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs), and even print or order a new Medicare card. . The website has become a very useful tool for almost everything related to health insurance.

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

Another useful resource for learning more about Medicare is www.medicarerights.org . This is the Medicare Rights Center, which is an independent organization that helps people on Medicare. This website provides helpful tutorials and links to help you better understand Medicare and the products that go with Medicare.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) also has a website that you may find helpful. www.ssa.gov The website allows you to access proof of income and other related information. You may find this information useful when helping your parents manage their finances.

www.ssa.gov The website has stricter security protocols for establishing login and password than most other websites. You will need your parent’s presence when setting up their initial username and password. The questions and protocols required to set up a connection would be nearly impossible for anyone but your parents to be able to answer or work.

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

I recommend that clients compare all medical or hospital bills with their insurance’s EOBs before sending a payment. The amount you pay should match what the insurance company says you owe.

Suppliers often include a statement such as “due upon receipt”. I recommend waiting until you receive your MSN and EOB 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 where you can access your medical information and billing information. It can allow you to pay bills online, review claims, review reports and other medical information. This is a useful tool when cross-checking prescribed medications against medications in the household. The pharmacy may have a website where you can track drug refills and payments. The insurance companies website gives you access to MSN, EOB and other coverage information.

Pooling all these insurance resources will make it a little easier for you to manage their situation. Of course, there’s the matter of maintaining a good system for tracking and remembering usernames and passwords.

Finding the system that works best for you and your parents is most important. I do not want to add work to the very important task in which you are involved.

Thank you again for everything you do to ensure your parents succeed where they want to be.

Senior Life Matters is a community program sponsored by Lutheran Jamestown. For questions or concerns or to reach Janell Sluga, GCMC, call 716-720-9797 or email [email protected]



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