Let me first say that Medicare is absolutely a boon to older adults who will face many medical issues associated with aging at the same time they also are on more modest fixed incomes than they had enjoyed in their earlier years. Now, shift gears from Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or Medigap as it is often called. These are also called Part C plans, and they can pick up what otherwise would be out of pocket costs like copays or deductibles not covered by Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans have more than 22 million enrollees, and no one would term these supplemental plans (whose open enrollment just closed) a scam. But there are some not so obvious costs embedded within many Medicare Advantage plans that everyone should know.
You don’t always hear about what happens if you switch carriers for Part C. Especially if you have had a medical event like a surgery or diagnosis or accident that may lead to ongoing issues…or not…issues such as if you’ve had a medical event…which will then become a “pre-existing condition. Try to change plans and suddenly some care coverage will be denied or some of your specialists are not “in network” or coverage may even be denied. All of this is not something that we can fully address in a single blog post, but every 65+ year old deserves an advocate who can help sort through a very complex minefield of coverages.
So, if you are a caregiver to an older loved one, you have almost a year to do some research in anticipation of the next enrollment period, and here are some resources to help. Specifically, check out this: Medicare.gov
Medicare also has a resource titled: “When can I buy Medigap?” And there is another Medicare publication that explains the rules for getting in or out of a Medigap plan. As I have said, you have nearly a year before the next open enrollment period. Please do your homework…and maybe even consider it advance planning for your own future.
I had used the plural –scams. Continue to help protect your older loved one from:
- Winning a Sweepstakes – if they get the call that they have “won,” and all they have to do is give some personal information or pay a “fee for the transfer,” hang up!
- Tech Support – may call to help your loved one defend themselves against a “virus” or “malware,” don’t let them go to a site, log on to anything…just hang up!
- Old Crushes – may reach out with a text or email harkening back to a school crush from back in high school – log off or hang up!
- Social Security – if someone calls about benefits or technical issues, don’t give them any information – first hang up and then call the Social Security Administration directly – 800.722.1213.
Now, you will have made someone’s world safer. Please enjoy the run-up to your holidays, and embrace your families.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.