Are you caring for a Florida senior right now? Caregiving can be one of the most thankless and challenging roles that any adult child has to face. While it can also be one of the most rewarding, this becomes more complicated when you think about the potentially increasing health care needs of your aging parent. What does your father need for his diabetes? How will you make sure your mother has the right primary care physician not only now but next year?

With this conversation, especially in October, you need to look at Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period. This is an annual time of year that all Medicare beneficiaries and their loved ones need to review their existing plan to ensure that it can still meet their needs. During this period, the Medicaid beneficiary can request and make changes to get the plan that best fits his or her needs right now, as well as for the year to come. 

We know you may have questions. Let us share three tips you can use to ensure that you have the best information available when making your decision for your aging parents.

1. Take a hard look at the “extra” costs. From out of pocket costs and out of network coverage to changing providers and new pharmacies, there is much for the Medicare beneficiary to review when it comes to what Medicare does and does not provide. This can become a point to carefully consider as you think about your aging parents’ health care needs. How have they changed? How have they stayed the same? If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything it is to not take our health for granted. Does your parent’s existing plan fit what he or she needs right now? Or may a different health care plan provide more of what they need?

2. How is your aging parent’s current plan changing, if at all? This information will be able to be found in the Annual Notice of Change letter. As a Medicare beneficiary, your parent should have received an “annual notice of change” from the Medicare plan no later than September. If they have not received it, time is of the essence and you need to contact Medicare to obtain a copy. The letter will go into detail about your parent’s benefits and explain the changes coming in the new year. 

3. Is your parent unhappy with his or her plan? It may be time to learn more about what is available in your community. You may use the Medicare Plan Finder on the Medicare website to help you with your search. This is an online tool from the government to help you select and compare plans based on key factors, such as your parent’s zip code, his or her medications, and his or her diagnoses. Once you provide this information, you can compare Medicare plans available in your area.

As elder law attorneys, one thing we know is that there may also be a less expensive option for you and your aging parents. In fact, premiums for some parts of Medicare are based on your parents’ modified adjusted gross income (or MAGI) from two years ago.  While your parents may not be able to change their income, this can help you plan for 2022’s premiums with them.

We know just how hard it can be as the child of aging parents. Take the time you need to find and obtain the Medicare plan for your parents’ needs. Do not hesitate to contact our office to learn more about how to protect yourself and those you care most about through Florida elder law planning. We look forward to speaking with you and scheduling a first appointment in our office. 

For more information about memory care and important long-term planning tools you can put in place, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment. We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering.