There are two ways to get Medicare. Original Medicare, which includes Part A and Part B. Part A covers hospital stays and Part B covers doctor and outpatient visits. Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) combine Part A and Part B and may have additional benefits such as vision and dental. These plans are offered through private insurance companies.
Original Medicare doesn’t pay for everything. You still pay a share of the cost in monthly premiums and co-pays. Medicare Supplement Insurance helps control these out-of-pocket costs.
Prescription Drug Coverage known as Part D, helps limit drug costs. You can enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan to go with your original Medicare coverage. Or you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Part A and B is the same throughout the United States. Medicare Supplement plans are nationwide and are available by state. Medicare Advantage plans Part C and Prescription Drug plans Part D, are offered by private insurance companies and may be available in certain counties, states, or regions.
The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is first time to enroll in Medicare. It begins three months before your 65th birthday month through the three months after your birthday. If you enroll before the month you turn 65, coverage starts on the first day of your birthday month. If you enroll during your birthday month or later, coverage starts on the first day of the month following the date you enroll.
Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP), October 15-December 7. This is the period that you can make changes to your Medicare coverage.
Special Election Period (SEP). During this period you may be able to enroll in, or switch, outside of the IEP and OEP. This includes changes in your life situation, such as retirement, leaving an employer or union health plan or moving from your current service area.
Medicare can be complicated. Health care needs can change year to year. It’s best to review your current coverage, so you can find a plan to best meet your needs. You may even qualify for financial help.
Angela Asadi is a licensed broker specializing in Medicare Plans. You can reach her at Asadiangela@gmail.com.