Michigan Association of Health Plans

Talking to your aging parents about health coverage

This story appeared in Priority Health’s ThinkHealth blog. Read more here.

If your parents are nearing or over the age of 65, they may be wondering, do they qualify for Medicare? Where is a good place to start?

A good place to start is by evaluating a few factors. It’s better about making preparations to care for an elderly parent than have to scramble during a moment of crisis, and to be sure to meet before “something happens.” The year has just begun but it is important to get a plan in place before the next annual enrollment period.

Many health plans come specialized for the aging population. But how do you determine which plan is best for your parents’ needs – and budget – to ensure you don’t incur any unexpected expenses?

Here are first steps and things to keep in mind when discussing health care options with your parents:

What are the benefits of the health plan your parents currently have?

What are the extra benefits that your parents typically take advantage of? Different health plans offer various benefits to members. Some come with a cost while others do not. Does the current plan offer rewards for shopping around before receiving a procedure? Are different types of care such as dental and vision covered? Is your parents’ current physician in the coverage network? Do they have access to perks like companion care, over the counter allowances and gym memberships? For example, Priority Health members have access to SilverSneakers, a free partnerships with gyms across the state.

Mentally answer all the questions above when it comes to your parents. After you’ve thought about these considerations, think about which ones are most important to bring up in a conversation with your parents, if not all. These value-added services will likely save them money in the long run, so they are definitely worth investigating before enrolling in a plan.

Does their previous employment entitle them to a specific health care plan?

Did you know retired public school teachers or federal employees have specific health care plan and benefits they are eligible for?

These plans offer great benefits to people who have served their community, such as lower premiums, prescription drug coverage and much more. Research if your parents meet the criteria for these plans.

Do they qualify for Medicare, or will they need to purchase individual coverage?

Use the calculator tool through medicare.gov to determine if your parents are eligible for Medicare coverage. Many health plans also offer a similar search tool to help you determine what Medicare plans are offered in your area.

If your parents do not qualify for Medicare, (eligibility typically begins at age 65) they will need to purchase an individual plan.

There are many options they can choose, from a high-deductible plan with a health savings account, to narrow or tiered network plans that have a lower cost with more restrictions. To get an idea of the cost for an individual plan, use the plan advisor tool and weigh your family’s options.

The added member benefits, provider network, your parents’ current conditions, as well as the price tag, need to be weighed when making this decision.

If just talking about health plans with your parents seems daunting, bring them a meal and talk about it over dinner. Check out some warm slow-cooker recipes here. It can help put your mind, and hopefully your parents’ minds, at ease for the future.


  back to blog