Many people start out learning about Medicare by helping their senior parents find health insurance coverage. Medicare can be confusing at first, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself up to the ears and knee-deep in information about Medicare. But you certainly don’t have to go about it alone. There are a number of great resources to help save you a lot of time and frustration. Before you get started, put these four tips into action when helping your parents prepare for Medicare.

1. Complete an “Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information” form.

If you’re calling Medicare on your parents’ behalf, they will need to fill out a Medicare “Authorization to Disclose Personal Information” form so that a Medicare representative can speak to you directly.

2. Know how it works.

To help your parents navigate their Medicare options, it’s important to understand how Medicare works. Get started by clicking here to download or order the official U.S. government Medicare Handbook Medicare & You.

Browse, a Medicare resource for helping Medicare beneficiaries, seniors, caregivers, and family members understand Medicare-related topics such as:

  • What is Medicare?
  • What is Original Medicare (Part A and B)?
  • What are Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C)?
  • What is Medigap?
  • When is Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period?

Once you have a better understanding of how Medicare works, you may better know how to answer: Is Original Medicare or Medicare offered by private insurance companies a better option?

For example, do you want to:

  • Choose Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) which you get through the government?
  • Choose Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare), but add a Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) through a private insurer (since Part A and B don’t offer PDP coverage)?
  • Choose Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare), but add Medicare Supplemental Coverage (one of ten lettered plans A-N) to help with costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as copayments, coinsurance, and yearly deductibles?
  • Choose a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) through a private insurer? Medicare Advantage plans replace Original Medicare, and have all of the same benefits as Medicare Part A and Part B, but may offer extra coverage, like vision, hearing, and dental coverage.

3. Ask specific questions about your parent’s needs.

What types of benefits are needed? Does your parent need prescription drug coverage? What can be afforded? Have a conversation with your parents about their specific health insurance needs and take notes so you can communicate that information to a licensed sales agent. For help considering which questions to ask when having the conversation with your parents about Medicare, see: Useful Questions to Ask Before Enrolling in Medicare.

4. Contact an expert.

At any point, you may call a licensed sales agent to help you answer all of your Medicare-related questions. Their insurance expertise and access to multiple providers can help save you time, money, and your sanity when trying to navigate Medicare. Licensed sales agents are a useful – and free – resource. Click here to learn more about the benefits of using a licensed Medicare agent to help you pick your plan.

Call 1-877-388-0596 – TTY 711 to speak with a licensed sales agent and get help with answers to your Medicare-related questions. Standard call center hours of operation are Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 11:00 pm EST and Saturday 8:00 am to 8:00 pm EST.