Although Medicare has four parts (A, B, C & D), there are essentially two directions you can take when it comes to coverage options:
Medicare Part A and Part B compose Original Medicare. This is your hospital and medical coverage that the government provides when you turn 65. Original Medicare does not cover all your healthcare expenses. Supplemental plans like Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plans) and Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) insurance plans can help cover your out-of-pocket expenses.
Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, replaces Original Medicare. This coverage is provided by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. These plans will sometimes include additional coverage for things like dental and vision care, prescription drugs or fitness programs. Medicare Advantage cannot be supplemented with Medicare Supplement insurance.
Medicare is composed of four parts: A, B, C & D. With so many different components, Medicare is a versatile system. You can combine different parts of Medicare to create your ideal healthcare plan.
Primary reasons to enroll
Offered through a private company
Allows you to see any provider who accepts Medicare
Covers overnight hospital stays
Covers medical care, like doctor visits
Covers prescription drugs
Offers low or $0 co-pays
Offers low or $0 deductibles
Limits your out-of-pocket costs
Covers preventive services, like flu shots
Covers additional benefits and services
The best time to enroll in Medicare is during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This is a seven-month period that begins 3 months before you turn 65 and ends 3 months after you turn 65.
You can enroll in Original Medicare in the following ways:
The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP), more commonly referred to as Medicare Open Enrollment, takes place every year between October 15 and December 7. During this period of time you can drop, add or switch your Medicare plans.
Medicare plans change each year. And while you may be happy with your current coverage, you could end up paying more than you need or missing out on important benefits. It’s important you properly prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment begins to ensure that doesn’t happen.
It’s recommended that you enroll in Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement insurance during your IEP. This way, insurance companies cannot deny you coverage or charge you more due to your health.
Medicare Supplement insurance has its own initial enrollment period which lasts six months and begins on the first day of the month in which you are 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
If you’re turning 65 and you’re still covered under a group health plan, it’s recommended that you still sign up for Medicare Part A during your IEP. Most people don’t have to pay a monthly premium for Part A.
You can wait to enroll in Medicare Part B. When your current insurance ends, you’ll be eligible for an eight-month Special Enrollment Period during which you can enroll in Medicare Part B as well as Medigap or Medicare Advantage.