How to Get Health Insurance For Your Parents

July 5, 2018 Health and Wellness

Parents go to great lengths to make their children happy, healthy and successful in life. So, it is only fair that they get the same love and care from you! And the best way to do this is by getting health insurance for your parents. This is because, as your parents age, their income declines but health care costs rise, and if they don’t have insurance to fall back on, things can get tough. Here are various options you can look into:

Medicare – Age limit for parents’ health insurance under Medicare is above 65. But they should have worked for 10 years, full time. It combines monthly premiums paid by the insured, 2.9% payroll tax assessed to all employers and workers, and the government. It covers the following:

  • Part A – Home health care, hospice care, hospitalization, care in skilled nursing facility
  • Part B – Lab tests, outpatient services, doctor’s visits, preventive care, some surgeries and mental health care
  • Part C – Can vary in cost and allows your parents to enroll with private Medicare health plans
  • Part D – Covers costs of prescription drugs

Medicaid – Medicaid is run by individual states and funded partially by the federal government. It covers hospice and home care, nursing home care, skilled care services and long-term health care. Note that:
Rules for availing Medicaid differ from one state to another
Private Health Insurance – These are expensive and can be purchased by individuals or offered by your parents’ employers on their pension plan. This health insurance plan is offered after evaluating their age, health and risk factors.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance – Also known as Medigap, this health insurance plan covers what Medicaid doesn’t. But they must be enrolled in Part A and B of Medicare to avail this. Medigap covers co-insurance costs for hospital or nursing home stays and assisted living.

Recommended Read: Health Insurance for Senior Citizens

Health insurance for parents visiting the US from overseas

If your elderly parents are visiting you in US from other countries, be prepared for medical emergencies with insurance. Here are 3 scenarios:

If they are only visiting – Get a good health insurance plan from reputed travel agencies or private insurance companies. They often cover urgent care, eye exams, dental treatment and onset of pre-existing conditions.
If they have lived in the US for less than 5 years – Get a Marketplace health insurance plan and once your parents complete 5 years of residence in US, opt for Medicare. But remember you have to pay premium for Part A, which is otherwise free for those who have worked in the US full-time for 10 years.
Health insurance for green card-holders senior citizens/ parents – Such people can either stay permanently in the US or shuttle between their native country and US. There are 2 options for you:

  • Above 65 years – You might be eligible for state sponsored Medicaid, federal Medicare or health programs supported by US state federal.
  • Below 65 years – If you live in the US permanently, consider Blue Shield, Blue Cross and other domestic insurances.

Recommended Read: Health Insurance Mistakes You Should Avoid

Can you use your health insurance to cover parents?

Most health insurance plans don’t allow you to add parents. But some private companies might offer dependant coverage. Even if you have a family plan, you should check if you can add elderly parents in it. In case a company offers coverage for elderly parents, you might have to prove that they are really dependants as per IRS rules. If such provision is not available, opt for a separate private insurance plan for your parents.