Master the basics of Medicare
Whether you’re just starting to dive into what Medicare is all about, or you’ve done enough research to thoroughly confuse yourself, you’ve come to the right place. In just 4 minutes, we’ll help you get a grasp on the basics.
Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover in the video:
The history of Medicare
The federal government started the Medicare program in 1965. The goal of the program? To help seniors and people with disabilities access the healthcare they need at an affordable price. Today, more than 55 million people in the United States are enrolled in Medicare. That number is growing as the “Baby Boomer” generation continues to age into retirement.
The many parts of Medicare
The Medicare program is broken into multiple parts, each of which covers a different set of benefits. Parts A & B together make up “Original Medicare” or “Traditional Medicare”. Additional options–like Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplement plans, and Medicare Part D plans–are also available for those who wish to build a more comprehensive coverage strategy.
Medicare Part A
Also known as hospital insurance, Medicare Part A covers hospital stays, nursing care, hospice care, and skilled nursing facility stays.
Medicare Part B
Also known as medical insurance, Medicare Part B covers medical or surgical services provided by doctors.
Medicare Part C
More commonly referred to as Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part C is an alternative to Original Medicare. These plans provide the same benefits as Original Medicare Parts A & B. However, they usually include coverage for additional benefits, like hearing, vision, or dental care.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D is the arm of Medicare that helps enrollees pay for prescription drugs. Private insurance companies sell these plans, and each Part D plan covers its own specific set of drugs. When shopping for a Part D plan, it is important to ensure that your medications are included in the plan’s formulary.
Medicare Supplement (also known as Medigap) plans are purchased in addition to Original Medicare. They are popular among enrollees who want to eliminate their out-of-pocket costs, like coinsurance and deductibles. The government standardizes the benefits covered under each Medicare Supplement plan type. However, the private companies that sell them determine their own prices. It is always worthwhile to do your research and shop around when in the market for a Medicare Supplement plan.
When to enroll for Medicare
Most people become eligible to enroll in Medicare 3 months prior to their 65th birthday, when their 7-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) begins. Unless you have creditable healthcare coverage from your (or your spouse’s) employer, you’ll want to enroll during this period. Neglecting to do so could result in permanent penalties on your monthly premiums.
How to sign up for Medicare
Unless you are automatically enrolled, you’ll need to sign up for Original Medicare Parts A & B directly through the government via the Social Security Administration. You can do so online, in person, or via phone. You can purchase additional coverage options–like Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plans–online via a brokerage. Alternatively, you can also purchase your plan from a local broker in your area, or directly from the private insurance company that offers your desired plan.