[AGE is proud to announce a new voice on the blog – Faith, AGE’s CaregiverU Coordinator and expert on being a family caregiver – you’ll be hearing from her on a range of topics about once a month.]
Part of the responsibilities of a caregiver is managing the household, which basically means keeping everything running—electricity on, appliances working, insurance in force, etc. A large part of the job is financial management. Income is like a milk jug—there’s a finite amount and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Deciding which cups to fill with the milk, and how much milk to put in the cups is a good analogy for managing the income in a household. As I care for my spouse, a constant concern is having enough money for all the needs that are currently present and for the future needs. Every spending choice impacts that concern—reassures or worries. My spouse is no longer able to share the responsibility for those decisions by discussing and giving input, so I’m on my own.
One of these big annual decisions is health care insurance.
My husband is on Medicare, but it is supplemented with a Medicare Advantage Plan. A Medicare Advantage plan is one of many Medicare options, with each choice carrying a price tag and offering specific benefits. Shopping amongst the choices is really a data analysis project, weighing the cost against the benefits. Medicare choice selection is done once a year, so whatever is chosen, there is a commitment to live with that choice for a whole year. Data analysis is not my strength. I am a language arts person with a Master’s degree in reading and twenty years experience as a language arts teacher. My oldest son, Eric, is a math person who crunches numbers in his chosen profession and gains an immense amount of information from a row of numbers. Thankfully, he is thrilled to lend a hand to this annual statistical analyses project!
Quite soon, now, I’ll receive a phone call from him that will sound something like this, “Mom, it’s time to enter all those numbers into the medicare web site. Do it soon so we have time to talk about the data.” My response is usually something like this, “Yes, will work on it soon. Seems to me I have a dentist appointment this week. It appears that I need a root canal and now would be the perfect time to get it done.”
If you don’t have a wonderful son (or helpful friend) to help you weigh your choices, there are people and resources out there to help you get rolling.
Below are two good places to start:
For benefits counseling, contact Area Agency on Aging: 512-916-6062
To find and compare prescription drug plangs: www.medicare.gov