My Dad, who was recently diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, lives in rural southern Oregon, where there is a breathtaking shortage of doctors who will take Medicare. He's currently on a Medadvantage plan, but I suspect this may be making his healthcare provider access issues worse ... because not only have I struggled to find him a primary care provider who will take new Medicare patients at all, but I also have to find one who is inside his Medadvantage network. I finally found one in his small town early this year (and it took me literally 4 months to get a "new patient" appointment with that clinic), but my Dad really dislikes him and is resistant to going to see him. So I'm back to square one. Since my Dad's on a Medadvantage plan, he has to have a GP-type doc in order to get referrals to specialists -- such as the referral earlier this year to the neuropsychologist I knew we needed to see for extensive cognitive testing.
So now it's Medicare Open Enrollment period (Oct 15 - Dec 7 this year), and I have an opportunity to change plans. I'm leaning toward switching to a Medicare supplemental policy (Medi-Gap) and adding prescription drug (Part D) coverage, because I've read that Medi-Gap plans will be accepted by any doctor who takes Medicare patients (as opposed to only doctors within a provider network), and because I've read that if you have Medi-Gap coverage, you can see a specialist directly without first needing a referral from your GP. It looks to me as if Medigap + Part D will, on average, cost more than my Dad has been paying in monthly premiums for his Medadvantage plan, but I would be willing to pay more for more flexible/better coverage than he's had.
I wanted to ask those of you who have been managing this for parents with dementia for awhile ... what did you decide to do in terms of coverage, and how has it worked for you? My Dad is not yet on any prescription meds for his condition, but that may well be coming down the road ... are there any hidden "pitfalls" for a dementia patient, in terms of choosing Medadvantage or Medigap + Part D, that I should be aware of?
Thanks so much in advance for any advice or pointers ...