People over age 65 may be eligible for Medicare, a federal health insurance program. Often, health care topics are confusing and it can be especially difficult for seniors to decipher the lingo involved. As a caregiver, you are in a key position to provide assistance to older people who need assistance understanding Medicare. Here is an introductory guide:

How does Medicare work?

With a typical health insurance plan, a person’s employer would take out an allotted amount of money every month to provide coverage to their staff. Since most people over age 65 are retired, they do not have this option. Instead, Medicare takes care of some of the senior’s health plan, asking that the individuals pay some of their total healthcare costs for the year.

What does Medicare cover?

There are different parts of Medicare that may correspond to a senior’s needs:

Medicare

What coverage does a senior need?

With all this information, you may still be confused about what your senior needs in terms of healthcare. Many seniors require multiple parts of the plan, such as Part A to help with in-home care fees and Part D to reduce drug costs. There are also other insurance policies that can cover foreseeable gaps in coverage that are not dealt with by Medicare.

How does a senior pay for Medicare?

Another term you may need to explain to a senior is Medicaid. Seniors who have little to no income and outside financial resources can gain access to assistance with paying out-of-pocket medical expenses and premiums through Medicaid. It also expands coverage to items like prescription drugs, hearing aids and eyeglasses. While Medicare may only cover nursing care for 100 days, Medicaid can extend that amount.

Medicare

Special circumstances

Medicaid and Medicare can deny service to individuals with certain preexisting conditions. The senior in your care should speak with his or her local Medicare representative and bring along health records to assist him or her in deciding what plans to sign up for. This way the senior can work together with the specialist to establish if there are any extra things he or she needs to know.