10 Things to Know about Your Parent’s Healthcare

Doing your research now is the best way to be prepared for the changes that will come as your parents age.


Senior and child on skateboard

Gathering the facts about your parent’s healthcare and understanding their coverage can be difficult. You may not know what information you need when caring for your aging parent, until a situation arises that requires you to provide it. 

Doing your research now is the best way to be prepared for the changes that will come as your parents age. Here are 10 essential things you need to know about your parent’s healthcare.

1. Does Your Parent Have a Power of Attorney (POA) Document?

Power of attorney is a legal document that gives a person of legal age the authority to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of your parent. As a caretaker, you will want to have a POA in place before illness or injury requires it. If your parent becomes unable to make decisions for themselves for any reason, it can become a long and expensive legal process to be named as a legal guardian.

To begin this conversation with your parent, be sure to ask them what their wishes and values are and discuss how you can meet those. Discover what they expect and want as they grow older. While these types of conversations are not easy, setting up a POA is critical and serves to protect them, and you, as they age.

2. Gather Family Health & Medical History 

As you move into the role of providing care for your parent, it is vital that you understand their current health and medical needs as well as their medical history. Visit your parent’s doctor with them and with your parent’s permission ask if you can file paperwork with the doctor’s office that gives you the right to view their medical records.

3. Get To Know Their Healthcare Providers

Talk to your parent about which healthcare providers they are currently seeing and take note of their names, addresses and phone numbers. Ask your parent where to find their complete medical history, list of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. This information is essential to have on-hand in an emergency so you can help them.

4. Be Involved With Their Appointments

As your parent relies on you more for their care, you may be responsible for making and keeping track of medical appointments on their behalf. To ensure your parent makes it to their medical appointments safely, and so you stay knowledgeable and up-to-date with their health, it may be wise to attend their appointments with them. This extra step helps you create a workable plan for the future.

5. What Medications Does Your Parent Take? And Are They Having Trouble Taking Them?

Check with your parent, their doctor and the pharmacist for which medications your parent is taking. Confirm doses, scheduling, interactions and drug coverage. You will want to ensure that your parent is taking their medications properly, even if that means administering the medication yourself.

6. What Kind of Health Insurance Coverage Do They Have?

Health insurance coverage comes in a variety of products and plan options, so it’s important to ask your parent what type of coverage they have, which insurance companies insure them, and where they keep their health insurance documents. Your parent may have a combination of benefits from Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, or private insurance. Check what each insurance policy covers in detail. For example, you may need to know if home health visits, mental healthcare, physical therapy, or skilled nursing/short-term assistance would be covered in their plan.

7. Do They Have Enough Coverage?

Once you know what type of health insurance coverage they have, check that it will be enough for the care your parent requires. If not, your parent may qualify for assistance from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income or veterans benefits. You can ask your parent’s doctor for information on local organizations that can help you figure out the coverage you need.

8. Understanding Medicare vs. Medicaid

Medicare and Medicaid both provide coverage for health-related services. Medicare is the national health insurance program for all Americans over the age of 65. Medicaid is an assistance program available only to individuals and families with low income. Medicaid will cover nursing home care for eligible seniors, but Medicare does not. It is important to know the differences and what your parent qualifies for. 

9. What Long-Term Care Insurance Does Your Parent Have?

Long-term care involves a variety of services intended to meet the short- or long-term health and personal needs of your parent. This includes assistance with daily tasks at home to living in a 24/7 care facility. It is important to know the type of long-term care coverage your parent has, so you are prepared to make necessary plans for the future. Long-term care may be provided through:

  • Medicaid
  • Private Healthcare Insurance
  • Veteran’s Benefits
  • Former Employer Health Benefits

10. What Type of Life Insurance Does Your Parent Have?

Life insurance can be either term (to cover a temporary problem such as debt that will expire) or whole life (which can cover funeral costs, debt repayment, estate taxes, or final medical bills). If your parent does not have life insurance, you can buy a life insurance policy for them (with their permission).

The best time to begin to gather this information is when your parent is still active and healthy. But it is never too late to start. Knowing the necessary details about your parent’s healthcare situation, their health coverage and life insurance will allow you to be a much-needed advocate for your parent if they cannot manage these issues on their own one day.

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Contact us any time and a Baylor Scott & White Health Plan licensed insurance agent can answer any questions you have about Medicare.