How to Help Your Aging Parent Select the Best Medicare Advantage Plan
In order to help your parents select the best Medicare Advantage plan for their needs, please consider the following points:
What Medicare Advantage Plans Cover
Medicare Advantage plans, which are also commonly referred to as Plan C, cover all of the services that Original Medicare does, and then some. Many offer coverage for vision appointments, hearing checkups, dental care and even wellness programs, which can include gym memberships. None of these are covered by Medicare Part A or Part B, which cover, respectively, hospital insurance and medical insurance.
Many Medicare Advantage plans will also include Medicare Part D, which offers prescription drug coverage. If your mom and/or dad take some medications, this can be a financially-wise plan to include. Depending on your parents’ transportation situation, Medicare Advantage plans can also include services like transportation to doctor visits. In addition, these plans can also cover over-the-counter medications and adult day-care services. In other words, Medicare Advantage plans are like a giant smorgasbord in a way; your parents can select which options they want from a large assortment of choices.
HMO or PPO?
Another thing your parents will want to consider when comparing Medicare Advantage plans is if they want to have a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. Deciding if they want the flexibility of a PPO or the predictability of an HMO should actually be the first decision to make. Overall, HMO costs are lower than PPO costs, as long as your parents are getting care within their network.
To assist your parents in this decision, speak with them about their current primary care physicians and other doctors that they currently see. If they really like and trust their doctors and are reluctant to change, then you might suggest that they consider a PPO. But if your mom and dad are more flexible about who they see, and/or their budget is somewhat limited, you might encourage them to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan with an HMO. Ultimately, the decision should be theirs, but going over the differences between an HMO and PPO can help steer your parents in the right direction.
Consider Coverage While Traveling
If your parents are snowbirds who spend half the year at one address and half at another, or if they do a lot of traveling, they should carefully look at the Medicare Advantage plans they are considering to see the rules and regulations regarding travel. For instance, some plans will pay for emergency care when you are away from home; this can be tricky if your parents have two homes.
Carefully Look at Ratings
As your mom and dad shop around for Medicare Advantage plans, advise them that Medicare will assign star ratings for the quality of each plan. This rating system includes important things like quality of care and customer satisfaction. Remind your folks that if a plan seems too good to be true, it probably is not a great option for them, and to do their homework and do their due diligence with research and review reading.
Make the Best Decision
By taking the time to learn all you can about Medicare Advantage plans, and encouraging your mom and dad to do the same, you can help your parents choose the best plan for their health and needs.