| Thu, Aug 25, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

Helping Loved Ones Navigate Medicare: 3 Areas to Consider

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Focusing on three areas—medical needs, financial resources and lifestyle—can help caregivers help their loved ones make wise Medicare choices.Navigating Medicare can be confusing, and many family members and caregivers find that their loved ones need a little help. All the choices, deadlines, terms, and benefits can seem overwhelming. By asking questions and using the many resources available to help make Medicare matters clear and simple, you and your loved one can tailor a Medicare solution that best meets your needs.

To begin, you may want to organize your information-gathering around three important areas.

1) Medical needs: Does your loved one have chronic health issues. Has there been a recent change in health status, such as a new diagnosis? What’s the likelihood that hospital or emergency care may be needed in the near future? What prescription drugs does he or she take, if any? How important is it for your loved one to keep seeing his or her current doctor(s)?

2) Resources: How much does your loved one currently spend on health care each year? It’s important to look at all expenses, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance as well as insurance premiums. What provision is there for the unexpected? What, if any, pharmacy discount programs are available through your loved one’s current Medicare plan?  Has he or she calculated the benefit of additional insurance to fill coverage gaps? Does your loved one need and qualify for financial assistance to help with Medicare or drug costs?

3) Lifestyle: How active is your loved one? Does he or she travel or spend part of the year in another state or country? Some plans offer national coverage or international emergency coverage, and others don’t. Does your loved one want access to wellness and fitness programs or other healthy lifestyle offerings?

There are many ways to organize Medicare coverage to meet a variety of individual needs. Find the information you need to help your loved one make an informed decision. Discuss needs, read materials, watch videos and, if you still have questions, you can speak with an expert directly by calling:

  • The Medicare Helpline at 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY 1-877-486-2048), available 24 hours a day. Or go to medicare.gov and use the online plan finder tool to find and compare Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) and prescription drug plans available where your loved one lives.
  • The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) or the Health Insurance Counselling and Advocacy Program (HICAP). Call 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY 1-800-486-2048) to find the SHIP number in your loved one’s state, or find the list at medicare.gov/contacts.
  • Eldercare at 1-800-677-1116 (TTY 711), or find them online at eldercare.gov.


For more information contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear to learn more at 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.


MedicareMadeClear.com’s list of resources.

Medicare.gov’s caregiver support site.

Medicare.gov’s help and support page.

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