Determining the type of senior health care insurance needed by an elderly parent isn't easy, and involves thorough research and
understanding of the different types of insurance available to seniors, as well as their benefits and drawbacks.
From basic health insurance to supplemental insurance for Medicare, prescription drug payment assistance or specialty insurance, to long term care insurance... the options are many and choices are often difficult to make.
Senior insurance comes in many forms and packages, including:
How to know which to choose? Does your parent need help with prescription drug payments? Does he or she need specialty care or services, such as in-home care or specialized services for the disabled?
Medicare is generally available to individuals 65 years of age or older, unless disability is involved, in which case individuals may file for Medicare benefits sooner. In a nutshell, Medicare is divided into several specific sections:
Medicare Part A - provides inpatient hospital benefits and care, and may include some Home Health Care, some hospital Inpatient care and care in a Skilled Nursing Facility, and some Hospice care (if qualifying factors are met).
Medicare Part B - helps to cover outpatient hospital care such as doctor office visits, tests, equipment, and other Health Services.
Medicare Part D - offers help on payment of prescription medications.
Many seniors (and adult children caring for elderly parents) don't realize that Medicare does not cover long-term nursing care, but offers up to 100 days of coverage as long as admission to a long-term care center or skilled nursing facility follows at least a three consecutive day stay in a hospital.
Medicare Gap Insurance was designed to help fill in gaps in care for basic Medicare plans and is called Medicare Gap or Medicare Supplemental Insurance, which are designated A through L. Benefits and costs of these plans increase, meaning Plan A has few benefits but is the least expensive, while Plan J has the most benefits, but is also the most expensive. In some states, all 12 insurance plans are not available.
If an elderly parent does not have any type of medical health insurance coverage, choose a plan based on current and potential future needs. Ask yourself questions such as whether you foresee your elderly parent needing at-home care, or long-term care in a skilled nursing facility. Is your parent generally healthy and able to provide for him or herself, or has he or she been diagnosed with a form of dementia, such as Alzheimer's or a neuro-l degenerative disease such as Parkinson's?
The overall health and physical condition of a parent should be carefully assessed before choosing a type of senior insurance. If possible, discuss such issues with your parent, and with your parent's permission, his or her primary care provider for advice and direction.
Home Health Care Insurance will help pay for support services over an extended period of time for an elderly person living at home. Home Health Care Insurance will also help in Assisted Living or nursing home facilities and will help supplement payments by Medicare or Medicaid.
When choosing a Home Health Care plan, choose one that offers financial assistance for a multitude of services, including custodial care, skilled nursing care, and home health aides. Not all policies are created equal. Some policies offer fixed health care costs on a daily basis, which often cap out at $100 to $200 dollars a day, while others may have maximum daily benefits calculated as a monthly allowance. Some policies may be customized for individuals who only need care one are two days a week, to those who need daily at-home health care services.
Basic Health Senior Insurance plans are very effective for unexpected accidents and hospitalizations, but very few basic health insurance plans offer options for long-term care in a Skilled Nursing Facility. These days, individuals, regardless of age, are being sent to long-term care facilities following acute care in a hospital setting for further physical or occupational therapy. Basic health insurance plans may or may not come with Vision and Dental care, which for many, must be purchased separately.
When it comes time to discuss insurance with an elderly parent, or do to choose for them, it is important to determine the current as well as future needs of the parent. Some senior insurance policies now offer specialized insurance for care of individuals with dementia or chronic illnesses, so make sure you have all the information you need to make an educated, informed, and effective decision when it comes to purchasing adequate senior insurance to meet those needs.
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