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This content was written by the advertiser and edited by Studio/B to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.

Full house: Baby boomers and boomerangs navigate health plan transitions

The support you need may be under your own roof.

Who remembers the ’90s television sitcom Full House? Chaos and comedy ensue as single dad Danny Tanner has his brother-in-law and friend move in to help him raise his three daughters. As the number of people under one roof grows throughout the series, so does the number of heart-to-heart conversations between characters. And while finding the positive may have been a signature way to end a storyline for this fictional show, multigenerational households today are also seeing the benefits of living together and sharing their different perspectives on life experiences.

A senior woman sits on outdoor furniture holding a tablet as a young woman looks over her shoulder.

Convenience, cost savings, and added closeness are just a few of the positives that family members share on multigenerational living. These households could include children in their mid-twenties moving back in (also known as the boomerang generation) or adult children with disabilities living with parents, as well as caregivers having their older adult parents or loved ones move in with them.

Despite being at very different stages of life, baby boomers and their family members in their mid-twenties both experience changes in finances, retirement planning, and career paths. A source of confusion shared among both generations is the transition of health care coverage due to age. For those turning 26, this means getting their own health insurance for the first time, while those nearing 65 will start to consider the switch to Medicare. 


“Aging off” of parents’ health care coverage at 26

Tim Walsh, director of marketing for senior products at Point32Health — the parent company of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan — has seen how daunting the process of choosing a health plan can be firsthand with his daughter, who is approaching her 26th birthday. 

“We let her know what’s coming; now it’s a financial consideration,” said Walsh. “Her plan and budget will ultimately dictate what her choices are.” His daughter, who no longer lives in the same state as he and his wife, is also tasked with finding reputable doctors that can serve her health needs. Walsh elaborates that one of her biggest challenges is then “making sure that the doctor she needs would be covered.”

A brunette young woman sits at a table with her laptop open and her credit card in her hand talking on the phone

But beyond conversations with family members who might have insight into health insurance, how can you learn what coverage options are available to you — and how can you narrow in on a choice? If your employer offers health insurance benefits, start by contacting your human resources (HR) department to see where you can access an overview of plan options made available by your employer. Also talk to your HR benefits rep to see what additional resources are available to employees when it comes to benefits selection. Your employer may provide health plan decision support, like MyHealthMath’s Decision Doc — available to eligible Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan members — to help make it easier to choose a plan. For instance, you can talk with a MyHealthMath representative about your specific health needs and budget to determine what health plan makes the most sense for you. 

If your employer does not offer health benefits or you aren’t currently working, there may be other options to explore. If you’re a Massachusetts resident, the Massachusetts Health Connector is a health insurance marketplace that helps you shop for coverage. The marketplace is open for everyone during a specific window called open enrollment, but there are certain life events, such as turning 26, that allow you to shop for coverage at other points of the year. After that initial year, it is important to stay on top of when open enrollment begins and ends for these types of plans.  

Walsh suggests first-time health plan seekers ask for recommendations from family, friends, or even online social groups, as well as do their own research to see how certain plans or providers are rated. As he told his daughter, “You really have to be a personal advocate for yourself and be out there gathering information.”


Understanding and navigating “aging in” to Medicare

On the flip side, even those who have navigated employer health benefits coverage for years might feel intimidated by the prospect of choosing Medicare coverage. 

“There’s just a lot to learn about when you’re thinking about Medicare,” Walsh explained. “You have to understand how Social Security works, when you can enroll, when you’re eligible to enroll, and you have to understand your options. It’s complicated; most people don’t really think about it until they have to.”

An elderly man and woman sit at a kitchen table in front of a laptop looking concerned.

There’s a seven month period to enroll in Medicare, which starts three months before turning 65, though eligibility can vary slightly from person to person. If you’re unsure of when you’ll become eligible, this eligibility calculator is a useful resource. It’s also important to know your options ahead of time and what type of coverage you’ll need. Have you been diagnosed with a chronic condition, or do you take medications on a regular basis? If you have a partner, start the conversation early about your lifestyle and future plans. Will one of you still be working and have access to an employer health plan? Do you plan to travel often upon retiring? 

The Medicare website offers helpful information, including a zip code breakdown that not only outlines health plan options but provides an estimated cost. When sifting through the options, see what resources are available from the health plans you’re interested in. A great resource to start with, Tufts Health Plan offers Medicare Made Simple, a guide and FAQ on navigating Medicare. Tufts Health Plan also puts on educational seminars where attendees can ask health and financial questions related to Medicare. And as Walsh recommended to first-time health plan seekers, those transitioning to Medicare should also lean on family and friends who have already gone through the process for suggestions and support. 

Whether you’re rattling off first-time questions about deductibles and coinsurance to your parents at the dinner table, or you and your spouse are Googling the difference between Plan A and Plan B over a morning cup of coffee, navigating the confusing process of choosing health insurance might be made easier when you lean on the guidance and support of members in your full house.  


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Point32Health is a nonprofit health and wellbeing organization, guiding and empowering healthier lives for all. Bringing together over 90 years of combined expertise and the collective strengths of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan and our family of companies, we help our members and communities navigate the health care ecosystem through a broad range of health plan offerings and tools.


This content was written by the advertiser and edited by Studio/B to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.