Talking With Your Parents About Their Insurance Coverage

Have you talked with your parents about their health and life insurance coverage? It’s an important conversation to have — even if it’s not always the easiest talk to get started.

Americans Are Growing Older

Did you know that, on average, 10,000 people in the U.S. turn 65 every day?

As you may have seen firsthand, the population is aging at a remarkable rate. In fact, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to double from where it is today, to more than 98 million people by 2060. A whopping 20 percent of the population is expected to be older than 65 as soon as 2050, according to the AARP.

If your parents are members of the Baby Boomer generation, they may be quickly heading for 65 themselves. Or maybe this important milestone is already in their rearview mirror.

In either case, there’s no time like the present to sit down with your parents and have an open, honest conversation about the future.

Planning for the Future

As your loved ones age, many pressing issues and concerns can come up. Some may be health-related. Others may have to do with your parents’ finances, or their estate planning.

Talking about all of these things, and more, is an unbelievably important step, one that could help your entire family face the future with greater peace of mind. Planning now could make all the difference down the line, saving you from daunting paperwork, confusing and expensive plans, and countless other hassles.

Despite all this, an in-depth report suggests that 70 percent of people age 25 and older have not had an in-depth discussion with their parents about “retirement issues.” On the flip side, more than 50 percent of people 50 and older have not had these discussions with their adult children.

We get it. This can be a tough conversation to have, for any number of reasons. Very few people want to dive into the delicate topics that inevitably come up. And for many families, it’s an easy discussion to push down the road, especially if your parents still seem active, engaged, and healthy.

As we’ve highlighted before, people in their 70s are more involved in their communities, more plugged-in to technology, and more physically active than any generation before them. Boomers are putting a new spin on aging, and living longer, better lives as a result.

But what happens when the road runs out and there’s no choice but to address these financial and health issues head-on? In many ways, it’s better to have a course of action already charted, so that you and your family are ready for whatever life throws your way. It’s important to have these conversations before something serious comes up.

One big thing to consider as you have these important talks? Insurance.

Getting a Handle on Health and Life Insurance

Do you have a firm grasp on your parents’ health and life insurance policies? Do they? Does everyone understand your parents’ coverage options — or if there are better avenues out there? When was the last time they reviewed their current plan and coverage? Does it address their current needs?

As you start to discuss your parents’ plans for the future, you may want to find some time to talk about the insurance options that will affect your parents, and you, moving forward. Keep in mind that your parents’ choices could have a huge impact on you – whether it affects your role as a healthcare proxy, or takes a toll on the entire family’s financial future.

Have you talked to your parents about:

Medicare Supplemental Coverage

When it comes to Medicare, what level of coverage do your loved ones have? Do they even know? Could they to fall into the “donut hole” left by Medicare prescription drug coverage? What are they paying for out-of-pocket expenses?

Older adults have a lot of options when it comes to Medicare, including Medicare Supplemental coverage. Medicare Supplements, also called Medigap, are private health insurance plans that help fill in the financial gaps left by original Medicare, like copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles.

There are lots of supplemental options out there that can help your loved ones get the Medicare coverage they need, at a price that works for them. But it may be important that you bring these options to your parents’ attention. According to a recent survey:

  • More than half of all people “find Medicare confusing or do not understand it at all,” and “most do not understand the program’s structure.”
  • 19 percent of respondents already enrolled in Medicare said they “do not know what type of coverage they have.”
  • Older adults were more likely to shop for new cable or internet plans than health insurance
  • Nearly half of those surveyed reported that they “never shopped around to find the best coverage.” 25 percent had not shopped around in two or more years.

Talking with your parents about Medigap now could make all the difference down the road. Medigap could help your parents avoid paying thousands of dollars every year in out-of-pocket medical expenses. Preparing for these planned, and unexpected, costs ahead of time could mean keeping more money in your parents’ pockets, giving them the freedom to:

  • Keep their lifestyle intact
  • Go out and enjoy their life goals in retirement
  • Protect the financial legacy they’ve created for their family

Life Insurance

Life insurance is protection that provides a lump sum payment to beneficiaries in the event of a death. It is coverage you can customize. There are many different options out there, and it’s important to determine how much and what kind of life insurance will work best for your family’s needs.

One reason that life insurance is so important is that it’s versatile. People use life insurance in all sorts of different ways, including:

  • Leaving an inheritance for loved ones
  • Replacing loss of income
  • School tuition
  • Home or vehicle payments
  • Covering debts (such as out of pocket medical expenses incurred from end-of-life care)
  • Burial and funeral costs
  • Estate administration and probate costs
  • Charitable contributions

As your parents get older, it may become even more important that everyone affected by their life insurance policy has a clear understanding of their coverage. This way, beneficiaries won’t be left in the dark, or forced to face an unpleasant surprise at a difficult time down the road.

As you sit down with your loved ones, you may want to ask questions which help you get a feel for the level of life insurance coverage they have. What does your parents’ policy look like? Do they even have one? Could there be better options out there?

Many people tend to think of obtaining life insurance as something difficult and daunting, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are lots of tools and resources out there to help you navigate the life insurance marketplace, and getting coverage is often a lot less expensive than many people think.

Having “The Talk” With Your Parents

Feeling ready to sit down and talk through your parents’ health and life insurance policies? It’s okay if you’re feeling a little hesitant. You’re certainly not alone.

Many people find it difficult to have these sorts of “big picture” discussions with their loved ones. Sometimes, the “role reversal” — the kids having to have a serious talk with their parents, instead of the other way around — can feel like a shock for everyone involved. Many people dread it, on both sides. It’s easy for it to feel too serious or intimidating.

Looking to start discussing the future with your aging parents? Here are three important things that may make this important conversation easier, and more helpful, for everyone involved.

1.) Start Early

When it comes to planning for the future, “the earlier the better” is a good rule of thumb. This way, your family can have plans and strategies in place if an unexpected situation should ever arise. This is also true with health and life insurance. For instance, with life insurance, it often pays to start younger, as policies are often less expensive and more manageable when you enroll earlier on. Similarly, starting Medicare Supplement insurance is much easier if you plan to buy a policy around your personal enrollment window.

2.) Be Open, Honest, and Willing to Listen

Money, death, life. Having the “aging” conversation might dredge up all sorts of sensitive topics, and it’s important to be sensitive in return. Listen to your loved ones’ wants, needs, and concerns. Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers, and make sure that your parents feel like equal partners in the conversation. After all, you are discussing their future: it should be a two-way street, so don’t be afraid to keep the tone casual. No one wants to be shouted down or talked over. At the same time, don’t feel like this first conversation has to be the “end-all-be-all.” There’s no need to deal with everything all at once: you can break the important topics down into multiple conversations.

3.) Seek Outside Help

Remember, when it comes to securing your parents’ end-of-life wishes as well as their financial legacy, you don’t have to handle everything alone. In many ways, it’s often better if you bring in support. This may mean spreading out this discussion to include other family members. And you will probably need to consult with different professionals for different needs, like healthcare providers, lawyers, and financial planners.

Discussing your parents’ insurance needs will be much the same. For questions about current health or life insurance policies, or for assistance with looking into new options, an experienced insurance consultant may be a helpful resource, able to help you navigate the marketplace and understand your options with ease.

That’s where Matt Peebles and the Enrollment Specialists can step in and help.

About the Enrollment Specialists

The Enrollment Specialists are here to help connect you and your loved ones with the right health and life insurance coverage for your needs.

Led by our owner and principal consultant, Matt Peebles, the Enrollment Specialists believe that there is a plan for everyone. Our team doesn’t believe in cookie-cutter care.

When you work with the Enrollment Specialists, Matt will sit down and truly get to know what makes you unique. From there, he’ll help you customize the insurance policies that will work best for your one-of-a-kind circumstances, making sure that your costs are minimized while your coverage is at its peak – – all at absolutely no cost to you.

With Matt and the Enrollment Specialists on your side, you’ll always be able to get a real person, and stellar customer service, whenever you need it: no need to dread the thought of call centers, online chatrooms, or unhelpful canned responses.

Plus, you’ll always be able to confidently say, “I Got A Guy” for all things health and life insurance. Matt will be your go-to guy for the entire life of your policy, ready to swoop in and save the day whenever you:

  • Have questions about your policy
  • Need some quick advice
  • Require new insurance cards
  • Want a go-between to work with your insurance company on your behalf
  • Are curious about changes in health insurance laws or requirements
  • Need an advocate on your side

Ready to talk Medicare supplemental insurance, life insurance, or critical illness insurance with Matt and the rest of the Enrollment Specialists team? Drop us a line today to get the conversation started.

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