Certain circumstances can come up in life where it may be beneficial for someone to make decisions for you. Having a representative for yourself is especially true for medical situations where you might not have the ability to represent yourself properly. In these cases, it’s best to have an appointed Power of Attorney (POA). Regarding your health insurance, a POA can help you when it comes to applying for Medicare and the additional plans you may need.
What Is POA?
Power of Attorney is a legal authorization for someone to make decisions about your medical care, finances, or property. The authorization usually takes the form of a written and signed document. The person being given the authorization is the agent, and the person giving the authorization is the principal.
Older adults often benefit from a POA the most. However, POA is valid in many other situations, including people with disabilities. Some recommend that all adults have someone appointed as their POA just in case. There are general POA guidelines, but the exact POA rules vary state by state. It is also important to know and understand the different kinds of POAs and what they can do for you.
Three Most Common POAs
There are a handful of different POA types out there. However, there are three main POAs to know: General, Durable, and Special. Let’s take a look at each one.
General POA allows the agent to represent the principal in any situation in accordance with state laws and guidelines. This can include financial matters, asset management, and more. Their abilities are on a broad spectrum. A General POA can handle business dealings, any money spent, or other actions that you’d like to handoff. Many people will choose to have a General POA even when they can do these things themselves. The General POA will take those decisions off your plate, so you can focus on other things.
This contract ends once the principal is incapacitated, so this POA may not be ideal for medical situations down the road.
Special POA, also known as Limited POA, is more specific. It gives the agent the ability to represent the principal only in certain situations rather than a broad spectrum. With a Special POA, the agent’s abilities are limited. In some cases, a Special POA is only valid for a specified amount of time.
Unlike the other POAs, a Durable POA allows the agent to continue representing the principal if the principal becomes mentally incompetent. A Durable POA can be useful in certain medical situations and others. You can choose to have an agent be your Durable POA for health care needs. This is likely the type of POA you will need to help with your Medicare enrollments and applications. The document must state that the specific agent has Durable Power of Attorney for health insurance for them to assist you with your insurance choices.
POA And Medicare
POA and Medicare often go hand in hand. Medicare is health insurance, so a POA can be necessary for some as they get older and may not be able to make medical decisions for themselves anymore. It can also be essential if you are disabled and qualify for Medicare early. The POA can speak on your behalf and gather information from Social Security and Medicare for you.
When a person is a POA for someone enrolled in Medicare, they can manage that person’s Medicare plans. This can include a Medigap plan, Part D plan, or an Advantage plan. A POA in this situation can speak on the principal’s behalf, sign plan applications, and make changes as needed.
Once an agent has been appointed, that agent must also submit the CMS medical release form. This form notifies Medicare that someone has the legal authority to represent someone else. You can find the form on Medicare’s website at Medicare.gov.
Additionally, the agent will need to submit a copy of the POA contract whenever they help complete an application with a Medicare plan. That document will prove why the agent signed the application rather than the principal.
How To Become A POA
Becoming a POA is not limited to a legal attorney. A friend or a family member such as a spouse or child can also become a POA. To become a POA, someone must be at least 18 years old. However, some states may have different age requirements.
The principal must also sign a power of attorney form and, in some cases, the agent as well. Each state provides the power of attorney forms that you can find online. You can also use online templates and other software to find a form. Some states require you to complete the documents using a notary. However, each state is different, so the exact rules vary. If you are the principal, you must be of sound mind when giving authorization to an agent.
Depending on your situation, you may consider appointing someone to be your POA and help make decisions on your behalf when you are not capable. You can give Medicare and Social Security a call for more information on the steps you need to take to appoint someone as your agent. Once that is complete, make sure the agent has the required documents to help you with your insurance decisions.