Getting Started with Medicare

This article was originally published here

Medicare is a health insurance program for those over the age of 65 and those under age 65 who have specific disabilities. You can sign up for Medicare at least three months before your 65th birthday. If you’re new to Medicare, you might be unsure where to begin. What you need to know is summarized below.

Medicare is Divided into Four Sections

These four components operate together to offer comprehensive coverage, although each part is responsible for different services.

  • Medicare Part A: covers inpatient hospitalization, hospice care, skilled nursing facility care, and home health care. For the most part, this Medicare category is free.
  • Part B Medicare: covers outpatient services like doctor visits, X-rays, and lab tests. Part B coverage is paid for monthly.
  • Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage): this allows you to combine your Medicare coverage into a single plan. Hospital and doctor care and prescription drug coverage may be included in these plans. You normally pay a monthly premium for Part C coverage, plus a deductible or copayment if applicable.
  • Part D: Prescription drug coverage is provided under Part D of Medicare. This coverage is available as a stand-alone plan or as part of a Part C plan that includes prescription coverage. For Part D coverage, you must pay a monthly premium and a deductible or copayment.

Parts A and B Are Available Without Charge

For the most part, Part A is free. Unless you or your spouse have never worked and paid Medicare taxes, you usually don’t have to pay a monthly payment for Part B. If you’re unsure if you’re eligible for premium-free Part A, contact your Human Resources department if you’re still employed or the Social Security Administration if you’re retired.

If you’re still working at age 65, Medicare is secondary to employment coverage. (If you get health insurance via your employer, you won’t have to do anything until you retire or your job-based coverage stops.) Parts A and B should be signed up for three months before your 65th birthday or eight weeks after you retire (whichever comes first).

Medicare Supplement Insurance Provides Additional Protection

You can get supplemental insurance, generally known as Medigap, in addition to the four categories of Medicare. Some costs not covered by Medicare, like deductibles and copayments, are covered by Medigap plans.

Medicare Advantage Plans Can Also Provide Coverage

You can acquire coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan if you don’t want to buy a Medigap policy. These plans are offered by private insurance companies that have a Medicare contract. All Original Medicare services must be covered by Medicare Advantage plans (Part A and Part B). They can, however, provide additional benefits such as prescription medication coverage, dental coverage, and vision coverage.

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