Caring for Loved Ones on a Fixed Income

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Caring for Loved Ones on a Fixed Income

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As caregivers, we are often caring for loved ones who are living on a fixed income. However, as we age, older adults are more likely to need additional health care services, leading to higher health care costs that take a greater share of wallet. In fact, according to the Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, an average retired couple aged 65 in 2021 may need approximately $300,000 saved after taxes to cover health care expenses in retirement.

Given the various needs a person’s retirement savings must cover, it’s important for caregivers to be in a position where they can serve as counselor (and, as needed, protector) when it comes to financial matters. Here are a few ways you can help counsel your loved one when it comes to money matters:

Equip your loved one to fight fraud

Older adults are at a high risk for elder fraud – an act that occurs when someone deceives a vulnerable person to steal or gain access to their money. Sadly, the elderly population racks up more than $3 billion in elder fraud losses annually according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The first step to fighting fraud is understanding how it happens. Fraud committed against seniors can be presented in a number of different ways – from posing as a grandchild over the phone to ask for money to replicating an email from a company your loved one knows and trusts that’s requesting personal information. For those getting up to speed on the topic, this article highlights some common scams that target seniors. In addition, for a timely read, this article discusses the uptick in health-related scams since the onset of COVID-19.

Once you’re up to speed yourself, set aside time to walk through these examples with your loved one and ensure they are aware of and understand how best to avoid falling victim to these tactics. Encourage them to ask you questions and to not be embarrassed in doing so. It’s important to remind them that these scams can happen to anyone – so it’s essential for all of us to have these conversations! 

In the unfortunate event that your loved one does fall victim to one of these scams, you can report scams online to the Federal Trade Commission. Doing so can help ensure this doesn’t happen to others – or even to you one day.

Know the right questions to ask when choosing a Medicare Advantage health plan

In starting the process of helping someone choose a Medicare plan that meets their unique needs, we encourage caregivers to ask their loved ones the following questions:

  • Does the plan fit your budget? 
    • To find out, review the plan’s out-of-pocket costs and look at the premium, deductibles, copays, and/or coinsurance.
  • Are your preferred doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies in your current plan’s network?
    • This can make a big difference when it comes to dollars spent!
  • Does the plan’s drug list cover your prescriptions? 
    • It’s also important to know what tier your prescription drugs are on or whether there are any coverage rules. And don’t forget: every year plans can change which drugs are covered and at what tier and cost — so be sure to check these annually.
  • Does your plan offer routine vision, dental, and hearing coverage? 
    • If these services are important to you, you may want to consider a plan that covers these costs. (Original Medicare does not, but a Medicare Advantage plan may cover these extra benefits.)

Lifestyle and health history are also critical components for choosing a Medicare plan that meets budgetary needs. In addition to the above, ask your loved one:

  • Do you enjoy participating in fitness classes to stay active? Are there prescription drugs you must take regularly to manage a chronic condition?  
    • If yes, you may want to consider a plan that provides access to fitness or prescription drug benefits, like a Medicare Advantage plan.

Knowing the answers to these questions will help your loved one decide which plan most closely matches both their budgetary and unique health needs. For more tips on helping your loved one choose the plan that’s right for them, check out this article.

Understand what additional benefits might be available

For many, there may be resources available to your loved one that you or they simply don’t know about. These could be subsidized or low-cost programs, or even services offering free assistance based on income or disability. 

To this end, Aetna and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) have a long-standing collaboration to encourage Medicare-eligible individuals to get a free BenefitsCheckUp® screening. Managed by NCOA, the BenefitsCheckUp online database searches more than 2,500 federal, state, and private programs that help people with limited income and resources find assistance programs. This might result in your loved one getting help paying for medications, housing, food, transportation, utilities, and more. BenefitsCheckUp has helped 9.6 million older Americans find over $41 billion in benefits.

You can also reach out to your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) or area agency on aging to help you better understand what programs or services are available to your loved one.

Caring for a loved one can be challenging regardless of their financial situation. When they are on a fixed income, cost becomes an important factor to take into consideration at all times. Open conversations about costs, fraud, needs, and helpful tools are just a starting point that can lead to big savings and peace of mind in the long run. 


For more information visit: https://i.care.ly/aetna-medicare or call 844-588-0135 (TTY: 711), 7 days a week, 8 AM to 8 PM. A licensed agent will answer your call.

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