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Caregiver Tips

You are like many people these days, caring for an older adult and perhaps being asked to make decisions you never expected. You need information, guidance and peace of mind. We understand what you're going through, and we're here to help.

If you have any questions about the Medicare options offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, please contact us to talk one-on-one about your unique situation.

What to Do First

Your To-Do List

You may need to address the following items to determine which type of Medicare plan is right for the person you are caring for. If they are still working and planning to retire, have them ask their benefits administrator whether they're eligible for Medicare benefits and learn what their options are.

Getting Started

First, you'll need to gather records and information for the person you are helping.

Legal records

  • There are certain forms that may need to be signed, so you can be of assistance.
  • For health insurance purposes, a CMS Appointment of Representative form will need to be filled out.
  • Speak with a trusted advisor, such as your lawyer or financial planner, about helping with legal and money matters.

Insurance

  • Find out what health insurance and prescription drug coverage they currently have and when they expire.
  • If they have been working, ask if a retiree plan is available.

Earnings and benefits

  • Contact Social Security to confirm their Medicare eligibility.
  • A close look at their finances will show the budget you will be working with. Look at earnings records such as bank accounts, pensions, Social Security income, and retirement accounts like annuities. Also consider fixed monthly costs, including mortgage or rent payments, utility bills and insurance premiums.

Current health and prescription drug needs

  • Learn about their medical conditions.
  • Will their prescription drug needs change in the future?

Should They Stay with Their Plan?

If they are currently enrolled in a Medicare plan, you'll want to discuss if it's still the best plan for them or if they should consider switching to another plan. This chart can help them confirm their decision.

Their plan may still meet their needs if any of these is true: Consider switching to another plan if any of these is true
They don’t currently take any prescription drugs. They need more coverage
They use the same prescription drugs as last year and they are still on the plan’s formulary They need a lower-cost plan.
Their costs (premiums, deductible, copays), while different, are still within their budget. Their current plan may not cover their prescription drugs next year.
If their current plan still meets their needs, don’t worry; they don’t need to do anything. Select a plan to meet their current needs.

If they decide to change plans, review the enrollment periods to see when they can make the change.

Helping Someone Enroll in a Medicare Plan

Follow the steps below to make enrolling in a Medicare plan easier.

Have these items handy:

  • Their red, white and blue Medicare card
  • Information about any other health insurance they may have
  • Bank account information, if they choose the automatic payment option (paper bill or or Social Security deduction options also available)

Be sure they qualify for Medicare and that they live where the plan they are interested in is available. Look at the plan choices.

Make sure the following coverages and considerations meet their needs:

  • Medical coverage – Find a plan that includes the right level of coverage to meet their health care needs
  • Prescription drug coverage – If they are enrolling in a plan that includes prescription drug coverage, check the formulary to be sure their current medications are listed. Remember, if they do not enroll in prescription drug coverage when first eligible, they may have to pay a late enrollment penalty down the road
  • Financial considerations – Health care plans have different benefits, premiums, copays, coinsurances, and deductibles. Consider these costs and how they will impact their budget

Enroll in a Plan

Review the enrollment periods to see when they can sign up.

Taking Care of Yourself

Caring for yourself while caring for others can be a challenge. But taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver or Medicare coach. Here are some ways to help you recharge and preserve your own health and well-being.

  • Make time for yourself. It's okay to get together with friends or see the latest movie on your list.
  • Ask for help. You don't have to tackle all requests by yourself. If someone else offers to help with a task, take them up on the offer.
  • Spend time with family. Walking with your spouse or helping your child with homework lets them know you're there for them, too.
  • Deal with stress. Keeping workouts and meditation part of your routine will help keep you strong if demands are high.
  • Keep information up to date. Completing these forms now can help with planning down the road.

We're on hand to answer your caregiver questions at any time. Contact Us.

Help Me Choose a Plan

Not sure what you need? Answer a few questions to help you decide. Get started

Now that you’ve picked a plan, it’s time to enroll

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