Feature Article: Medicare Guide for Caregivers

by | Nov 23, 2021 | Featured Article | 0 comments

It is essential for caregivers to know and understand the coverage and benefits that Medicare can provide for them and their loved ones.

We have already featured many articles about caregiving in the past, from Eleanor Gaccetta’s One Caregiver’s Journey to various articles about family caregiving. Today, we will take a look at Medicare and how it can support family caregivers and patients.

Medicare is a U.S. federal government health insurance program that subsidizes healthcare services for people age 65 or older. A plan may also cover younger people who meet specific eligibility criteria and individuals with certain illnesses. 

Medicare is divided into different plans that cover a variety of healthcare situations and is designed to help patients and caregivers by providing specific medical services and support. 

The Original Medicare has two components: Part A for hospital insurance and Part B for medical coverage. A loved one or a family member may be enrolled in a Medicare program. Aside from Part A and Part B, individuals can choose to enroll in Medical Part D Plan. Individuals with Part A or Part B Plan may enroll in a Part D Plan which offers supplemental prescription drug coverage. They can also opt for a Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C Plan. Part C Plan covers different services such as doctor and nursing services, x-rays, hospitalization, home health care, and lab and x-ray services. Some states may also extend patients’ prescription drug coverage, physical therapy, dental services, and medical transportation.Medicare recipients may choose to purchase a separate supplemental health insurance to augment the Medicare coverage.

All Medicare enrollees are issued a red, white, and blue Medicare Card. There is also a separate Medicare Advantage for Part D Plan holders.

Caregivers should note two crucial coverage of Medicare, the home health care and skilled nursing care, which may benefit their loved ones or family member.

Below are some of the services that may fall under the Home Health Services covered by Medicare:

· Part-time skilled nursing care

· Physical, occupational or speech therapy

· Medical social services

· Part-time home health aide services

To avail of the home health services, enrollees must meet specific criteria. For example, in many cases, your loved one or family member must be homebound and receive services under a plan of care created and prescribed by a physician. Once qualified, Medicare will pay all costs for home health care services ordered by your primary physician. A certified home health agency then administers the services.

There are, however, home health services that Medicare does not include and are the responsibility of the Medicare benecificiary. Below are the standard home health services not covered by Medicare:

  • 24-hour home care.
  • Personal care — such as help with bathing, dressing, and eating — when this is the only care needed.
  • Meal delivery.
  • Homemaker services, such as grocery shopping or light housework.

Aside from Medicare, family caregivers can also seek financial aid and resources as well as tax breaks and credits from their state operated Medicaid program.

According to reitireguide.com, 

“In some cases, you may be able to get paid as a family caregiver — particularly if you care for a U.S. military veteran or someone eligible for Medicaid. There are four plans that allow U.S. veterans to pay a loved one or family member for caretaker services.”

Medicaid programs go by different names, and the coverage for support and services may vary but generally, they help those who are eligible and the resident family caregiver. However, if in case, you and your loved one or family member is not eligible for this financial aid, you may qualify for tax breaks.

The foremost requirement for tax credits is that the person you care for must be a dependent. You may be able to claim your parent as a dependent if they live with you and you supply at least 50 percent of the household income.

Family caregivers may qualify for a dependent care credit on their tax return in instances where they paid someone else for caregiving services while still working. If a family caregiver paid for their loved one’s medical bills, they may apply for a medical expenses deduction. In many cases, this includes the cost of long-term care insurance.

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