Every day for the next decade and more at least one Baby Boomer will turn 65. That means their children and grandchildren will slowly learn about the challenging role of helping Mom and Dad in some level of caregiving. Managing medical expenses and sorting out what Medicare will cover and where private insurance is needed to fill the gap is one of the most challenging aspects of that role reversal.
Social Security has already denied millions of elderly Americans their cost of living increases for three years running, placing an added burden on this already financially strapped segment of the American population. These same people are the ones who saw their life savings evaporate during the recession and are now living a more limited retirement than they ever envisioned.
While GOP critics have said it is nothing but a political ploy to curry favor for the Democrats before the 2012 election, the Department of Health and Human Services has re-rated hundreds of popular private insurance plans offered through Medicare, which infuses $6.7 billion into the system to head off service cuts to older Americans under health care reform.
Political or not, the move is a huge help to the elderly. The enrollment period for Medicare-backed plans starts in December each year and consumers can also switch plans at that time. Make a note to review what rate you’re receiving at what level of coverage at the end of the year. You might be able to do better with one of these programs now rated for a quality bonus.
The move also shows that health care is still front and center in the American political debate. If a Republican is elected in 2012, the whole picture could change. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to know exactly what’s going on with your health insurance and to be prepared to make a cost-saving switch if necessary.