Signing Your Parent Up During Open Enrollment
Medicare can be a confusing topic, and your parents may need your help finding the right plan. While you can help your parents do this, they will likely need to sign a medical authorization form if you are going to be deeply involved in the process. You also may need to review options with your parents each year as plans change.
- Written by Christian Simmons
Christian Simmons is a writer for RetireGuide and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). He covers Medicare and important retirement topics. Christian is a former winner of a Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest and has written professionally since 2016.Read More
- Edited ByLamia Chowdhury
Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.Read More
- Published: August 10, 2022
- Updated: November 1, 2022
- 5 min read time
- This page features 2 Cited Research Articles
- Edited By
Can You Apply for Medicare for Your Parents?
You can help your parents apply for Medicare. Parents sometimes need help enrolling for a variety of reasons. There may be a language barrier, they may not be good with technology or they may simply be struggling with the complexity of the process.
Offering advice or guidance is one thing, but if you plan to select a plan for your parents or talk to representatives on their behalf, then you may need to sign a medical authorization form.
How Do You Apply for Medicare?
Your parents can enroll in a few different ways. They can apply in person at their local Social Security office, over the phone or online.
Applying online may be the easiest if you are looking to help them through the application process.
Your parents will need to provide a few key pieces of personal information. They will need to have their Social Security number and some form of identification, like a driver’s license.
They will also need to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship, basic contact information such as phone number and home address, and potentially tax information.
Remember that your parents will also need to sign the medical authorization form if you are extensively involved in their enrollment.
How Long You Have to Apply
There is an initial window of eligibility that your parents will have to apply, lasting seven months in total. It begins three months before the month of their 65th birthday, includes the month of their birthday, and lasts three months after.
If your parents don’t sign up during this period, they may be subject to a permanent penalty in the form of higher premiums when they do eventually apply.
It is also important to note that your parents will likely become eligible at different times.
Medicare eligibility is not affected by marital status or a spouse’s eligibility. Your parents will become separately eligible in the windows surrounding their 65th birthdays.
After their initial enrollment period, your parents will also have an opportunity each year to make changes to their Medicare coverage during open enrollment. This window lasts from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 and can be used to switch to a different plan like Medicare Advantage.
What Is Included in Original Medicare?
Original Medicare, which is provided by the federal government, is divided into two distinct parts.
Part A, which is premium-free for most Americans, is essentially hospital insurance. It covers inpatient care and stays in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, as well as hospice care.
Part B covers outpatient care, as well as treatments and services that are deemed medically necessary. Areas like ambulance services, durable medical equipment and preventive services are also covered under Part B.
Do Your Parents Need a Medicare Advantage Plan?
Your parents may want to opt for a Medicare Advantage plan depending on their specific needs.
Medicare Advantage plans are provided by private insurers but includes everything that is covered under Original Medicare at minimum. Plans typically include additional coverage and benefits that go beyond Original Medicare’s scope.
- Provided by private insurers instead of the federal government
- Different plans offer different types of coverage and benefits
- Plans vary regionally
Plans are available regionally and vary in what they offer, so you will have to do some research to determine which options may make the most sense for your parents.
The plans available near you may also change year to year, so you may want to check out the Medicare Advantage options for your parents each year even if they initially sign up for Original Medicare.
Do Your Parents Need a Medicare Part D Plan?
Your parents may want to opt for a Part D plan. These plans offer prescription drug coverage, which is a must for many older adults and is not provided through Original Medicare.
You may be able to get drug coverage for your parents through Medicare Advantage, since many private plans include Part D.
But if your parents have — and plan to stick with — Original Medicare, then they can enroll in a standalone Part D plan as well.
Like Medicare Advantage, Part D plans are provided privately through insurance companies.
Unless your parents have creditable drug coverage from another form of insurance when they first become eligible for Medicare, they may be subject to a penalty if they don’t sign up for Part D when they are eligible.
The permanent penalty will be added onto their premium if and when they do sign up for a Part D plan.
Do Your Parents Need a Medicare Supplement Plan?
Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap, may be an option for your parents to consider as well.
Medigap essentially offers a way to fill in some of the gaps in Original Medicare coverage, helping to cover some of the costs that Medicare doesn’t, such as copayments and deductibles, in exchange for a monthly premium.
According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, these supplement plans can offer other benefits like health care coverage outside of the United States.
It is important to remember that Medigap is only meant to be paired with Original Medicare and cannot be used with Medicare Advantage. In fact, it is illegal for an insurance company to try to sell a supplement plan to your parents if they have Medicare Advantage.
2 Cited Research Articles
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/cms10106-authorization-disclose-personal-health-information
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Read to Sign Up for Part A & Part B. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/basics/get-started-with-medicare/sign-up/ready-to-sign-up-for-part-a-part-b
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