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Caregivers and their Medicare?

caregivers-and-their-medicareYes, you read it right.  I am posting this one about what caregivers should know about their Medicare.  But you may ask, aren’t home caregivers the ones supporting an older loved one…typically a family member?  Well, yes, it is true that caregivers typically are caring for an older person; even older caregivers are caring for an older partner.  But the average age of caregivers also is rapidly growing, with the average age of a caregiver who looks after a 65+ year old loved one at 63 years old.  In fact, the average age of a caregiver today is about three years older than the typical caregiver of just eight years ago.  Welcome to the mature boomers’ generation.

So, caregivers who approach or move beyond age 65 should be concerned with all the issues that have confronted aging Americans all along, like Medicare, for instance.  And aging caregivers may not be paying attention if they are still in the workforce as growing numbers of people are.  And that seem fine as long as they are employed and their employer keeps them on the group health plan, right?  Wrong!  If you are age-qualified for Medicare, you need to enroll as soon as you can.  So, as soon as you turn 65, you should sign up for Medicare Part B which will cover your outpatient services.  Or, if you stay with the employer, you still need to sign-up for Medicare within eight months of your retirement.

If you do not enroll in Medicare during the predetermined time frames, you will face waiting periods just to enroll.  And then you will face a waiting period for the coverage to kick-in.  And here is the kicker.  If you maintain your employer’s coverage thinking that is all you need, you will be in for a surprise once you submit your first claim if you had been eligible for Medicare – but had not enrolled.  Your commercial insurer will consider their coverage now to be your supplemental coverage, honoring only what Medicare would not cover.  So, you would be one of those who have paid for the commercial insurance, but it will cover only a very small part of your bill.

So, pay attention to your Medicare enrollment period regardless of your employment status.  You are eligible to enroll in Medicare three months ahead of the month of your 65th birthday through three months after.  And by the by, you will pay a penalty for every 12 months you delay enrollment beyond your 65th birthday month.,  That amounts to a 10% per 12 month period over the normal Part B premium permanently.

So family or home caregivers, enjoy working as long as you wish or must, but pay attention to your calendar, because Medicare certainly will be watching for your birthday!

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends senior health services to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Please email your questions to


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