Medicare Caregivers: Individuals Caring for a Medicare Beneficiary
Tending to the needs and concerns of a loved one can play an important role in their well-being and quality of life. From activities of daily living to traveling to appointments to providing companionship, being a caregiver can be time consuming and overwhelming—especially when you’re trying to navigate the Medicare coverage of the person you’re taking care of.
At SelectQuote, we can help you better understand the complexities of Medicare coverage, serving as your advocate and resource to help make your job as caregiver a little easier.
Important Information to Remember About Your Medicare Beneficiary
As you navigate Medicare coverage options for and with your loved one, there are a few pieces of information about the person you are caring for that you’ll want to have on hand, including their:
- Medicare number and the type of coverage they currently have
- Social Security number
- List of current prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
- Contact information of current healthcare providers and pharmacists
- Current health conditions, symptoms and treatments
- History of past health issues
- Emergency contacts
- Other financial and legal information
Best case scenario, both you and your loved one are able to be part of the conversations when figuring out which Medicare coverage is right for them. In the case they are to remain hands-off, though, you will need to have their consent to handle this process on their behalf.
Understanding Types of Medicare Plans
The first step to understanding Medicare coverage is to understand the four main parts of Medicare:
- Medicare Part A helps cover most inpatient hospital, skilled nursing home, home health and hospice care. There is a monthly premium for Part A, but many people will qualify for premium-free Part A.1
- Medicare Part B covers routine doctor visits, including specialists to treat your medical conditions. It also covers preventative services, which is meant to prevent illness (like the flu) or to detect at an early stage, when treatment is most likely to work best. There is a monthly premium for Part B.
- Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is an alternative to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) sold through private insurers. Medicare Advantage Plans are required to have the same benefits as Original Medicare, but often include additional coverage such as prescription drug coverage, vision and dental benefits, fitness memberships, and more.
- Medicare Part D, also referred to as Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, help cover the costs of prescription medications.
In order to fill the gaps in coverage from Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), there are a few plan options you’ll want to consider:
Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage plans are required to include the same amount of coverage as Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) and typically include coverage for Part D (prescription drug) as well. Some Medicare Advantage plans also include additional benefits not available with Original Medicare, such as hearing, dental and vision coverage, rides to and from appointments, over-the-counter benefits, and more. Medicare Advantage Plans may also offer $0/month premiums.
Medicare Supplement Plans
Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap insurance, help fill the gaps of Original Medicare with basic benefits, such as deductibles, coinsurance and copayments. The monthly premium cost of Medicare Supplement plans vary depending on the type of plan, but the premium cost is typically offset by lower annual out-of-pocket costs for healthcare services. In most states, there are eight Medicare Supplement plans to choose from and all policies have been standardized. That means there is no difference in the benefits offered between Medicare Supplement insurers.
Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
Medicare Prescription Drug plans help cover the cost of both generic and brand name medications. A Medicare Part D plan can be purchased as a standalone plan to supplement Original Medicare or to accompany a Medicare Supplement Plan.
Need help choosing a Medicare plan? We can help.
As a caregiver, it can be difficult to know what type of plan is right for the person you’re taking care of. Our Medicare plan quiz can help you determine what type of plan would work best for your Medicare beneficiary.
When to Enroll in Medicare: Medicare Enrollment Periods
Each year, there are five set times a Medicare beneficiary can enroll in Medicare or change existing Medicare plans:
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
The Initial Enrollment Period is the first time a Medicare-eligible person can enroll in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. The timeline begins three months before the month of a person’s 65th birthday and continues through the three months following a person’s 65th birthday.
General Enrollment Period (GEP)
The General Enrollment Period runs January 1-March 31 each year and provides an enrollment opportunity for individuals who didn’t sign up for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) when they were first eligible. Individuals may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for not enrolling when first eligible and coverage will not start until July 1 of that year.
Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
During the Annual Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year, current Medicare recipients can change or enroll in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug plans.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
A Special Enrollment Period occurs if certain life events lead to an individual being eligible to enroll in Original Medicare or enrolling/changing Medicare Advantage coverage. These life events include:
- Moving to a new location where new plan options are available
- Losing employer coverage
- Being diagnosed with a qualifying chronic condition, such as diabetes or chronic heart failure
- Moving in or out of a skilled nursing facility or long-term care hospital
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period allows beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan to make a one-time plan change from January 1 to March 31.
Learn More with Medicare Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Learning about Medicare often brings up more questions than answers. In order to help and provide caregiver resources, we’ve answered some of the most common questions about Medicare.
Start Understanding Your Beneficiary’s Medicare Options Now
While there are a lot of responsibilities you have as a caregiver, we’re here to make understanding their Medicare coverage easy and provide information for caregivers. From enrollment to the type of plan needed to your options as a caregiver, at SelectQuote, we’ll help you navigate Medicare and explain it to you every step of the way. We’ll make sure the person you care for has the coverage they need at a price they can afford.