Sometimes we get desperate phone calls from an adult child in another state inquiring whether we know the name of a certain health insurance company. The parent has recently been hospitalized or passed away, and they have no idea what health insurance coverage they had, whether a long term care policy or, even who is listed as the beneficiary. Can you imagine, sitting at the kitchen table with a couple of city yellow page directories having to guess whether the insurance company is large enough to be well-known, located or still in business? And where would you start?
And think how many seniors have been taken by predator salespeople who have signed them up for policies they could never understand let alone use.
My mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago. My father has had two stent procedures and soon turns 90. So I have learned the importance of keeping track of their medical papers, and this of course includes their health insurance policies.
If your parents are older, making an effort to live together and manage by themselves, here are two things you can do to keep their health information safe and to make it easier on yourself should you need to step in.
Copy and distribute papers
It would be good to get together their medical information, and then to copy and distribute it to your siblings or other responsible parties. In a crisis, you will be able to quickly locate their information. Your parents may be stubborn or protective of their information and not realize how they could be jeopardizing their welfare by keeping their papers from “prying eyes.” This is vital information which should be accessible at some urgent future time.
Display vital information in a well-accessed place at home
A good suggestion is something that I have seen in other homes; a plastic, file holder of some kind in red, something easily seen, perhaps held by a magnet to the side of the refrigerator, with folded papers listing medications, blood pressure readings, addresses and contact information for the doctor(s). This could be found by first responders or by a neighbor who is calling for help because their friend has fallen or has had a heart attack and who does not know what medication information is needed to give the doctor’s office.