Is Basic Medicare Coverage Enough for my Parents?

Caring for aging parents comes with plenty of challenges on its own. The last thing you want to worry about is your parents’ health insurance needs. Finding the right plan, though, isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Whether your parents are facing medical complications, transitioning to a nursing home, or simply needing help navigating technology to enroll, there are several factors you should consider before they stick with basic Medicare.

Understanding Original Medicare vs Medicare Advantage

Medicare Parts A and B, also known as Original Medicare, offer hospital coverage and outpatient coverage respectively. You can learn more about what Part A and Part B cover exactly by reading this article.

With Original Medicare, you pay for services as you get them. While Medicare will cover a lot of costs, you could still be responsible for deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. On its own, Original Medicare will not cover supplemental healthcare (such as hearing, vision, or dental care) or prescription drugs.

Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, is an alternative to Original Medicare. This plan bundles your Medicare coverage, including Parts A and B and usually Part D prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage can also cover things that Original Medicare does not, like vision, dental, and hearing insurance.

While Medicare Advantage has several benefits over Original Medicare, there are also a few other considerations that need to be made before choosing one Medicare option over another. If your parent has specific doctors or medical needs, you will need to check to make sure those healthcare providers are in-network and whether or not they will need a referral to see certain specialists.

If a Medicare Advantage plan covers all of your parents’ providers and services, however, then it can be a great option for anyone looking for a “one-stop shop” option for their health insurance needs.

Factoring in Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D provides coverage for prescription drug costs. This plan is offered by private insurance carriers and is available for purchase as a separate stand alone plan for those with Original Medicare or can also be included as part of a Medicare Advantage plan.

Policies vary by cost and which medications they cover, but even the least expensive prescription drug plans cover most of the generic and brand name drugs generally needed by people on Medicare. 

Even if your parents are not currently taking any expensive medications, it is still wise to be enrolled in at least an inexpensive drug plan as there are high financial penalties for adding it later.

Don’t Forget About Medicare Supplement Plans

A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy can help pay some of the remaining health care costs that Original Medicare does not cover. This may include copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. 

Not everything falls under Medigap, however. A supplement plan may not cover long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or private-duty nursing.

With a supplement plan, healthcare costs will first be covered by Original Medicare and any leftover may be covered by the Medigap plan. 

Making the Best Decision for Your Parents

Finding the right Medicare plan for your parents begins by reviewing their situation and estimating their future healthcare needs. 

Trusting a professional is another way to make sure you find the best options for their needs. By consulting a Medicare advisor, you get:

Want to make sure your parents have the best Medicare coverage for their healthcare needs? Our local advisors have decades of experience supporting Medicare beneficiaries in finding the right coverage.

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