Caught in the Middle: Insurance Tips for the Sandwich Generation

By Craig Smith
November 3, 2017

Caught in the Middle

It seems strange to place middle-aged adults in the same category as BLTs and PB&Js. But instead of two slices of bread, adults are finding themselves financially “sandwiched” between 2 generations: their children and aging parents.

This dual responsibility isn’t new, but it’s now more costly than ever. On one end, parents are supporting their children past the age of 18. On the other, seniors are living longer but may not have the savings to match their longevity.

And this means the middle generation is footing both bills—including dental costs. With so much responsibility, how is the sandwich generation expected to save on dental expenses?

These tips can help reduce dental costs:

1. INVEST IN YOUR CHILDREN FIRST.

Children under 18 should be priority dependents, in terms of health and insurance needs.

Keep ahead of future costs by focusing on preventive care. Instill good oral health habits at a young age, schedule regular dental exams and use your full benefits to avoid any future costly restorative procedures.

2. ENCOURAGE ADULT CHILDREN TO BE INDEPENDENT.

As your children get older, it’s important to set expectations. This includes their dental care and determining who will be responsible for copays, dental bills and overall benefit costs.

Although your adult children are eligible to stay on your benefits until they turn 26, it may make financial sense if they sought out their own plan sooner. Talk to them about their options and financial capabilities.

3. CONSIDER ALL OPTIONS FOR YOUR PARENTS.

Aging seniors often have a hard time accessing dental care. Some possibilities to get them covered:

  • Explore long-term care insurance. If your parents are not yet dependent on your financial assistance, have them consider a long-term plan as a safety net.
  • Supplement their Medicare plan. Medicare does not cover routine dental care, but certain supplement plans and resources can help lower costs. For instance, Delta Dental of Idaho has teamed up with SelectHealth to offer dental benefits to Medicare Advantage eligible beneficiaries in certain counties across the state.
  • Seek out an affordable individual plan.
  • Claim them as a dependent. The IRS will allow you to claim an elderly parent if they meet certain criteria. But this option is not always guaranteed for insurance purposes. Check with your insurance provider to see if this is an option.
4. DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOURSELF.

By being a caregiver to both your children and your parents, it’s easy for your needs to take a back seat. Be sure to take care of yourself by maintaining your health, using your insurance plan and keeping up-to-date with your dental appointments.

And if possible, avoid dipping into your retirement savings to pay for your family’s health costs. Your financial future could depend on these costs, and spending this money could mean passing on financial loss to your children.

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