There are two main ways to get Medicare.
You have two options. You can choose Original Medicare (Parts A and B) or a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C). Original Medicare is provided by the government. Medicare Advantage Plans are provided by private insurance companies. If you decide to choose a Medicare Advantage plan, you have your choice of plans and private insurance companies that offer them. Some of these plans are zero premium and include prescription drug coverage.
You will pay a share of the cost with Original Medicare.
Did you know that you contributed to Medicare by paying taxes while you worked?
As a result, when you turn 65, you are entitled to Medicare. But remember, Original Medicare does not pay for all of the costs of medical care or hospitalization. You still have to pay a share of the cost in monthly premiums and co-pays.
A supplemental insurance plan helps control costs.
A medicare supplement insurance plan helps limit these costs by covering deductibles, co-pays and more, should you become seriously ill or need to seek a lot of care. The most popular plan is plan F.
Prescription drug coverage can help limit drug costs.
Any Medicare member can get optional prescription drug coverage (Part D). You have a choice. 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 offers the prescription drug coverage. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn't offer prescription drug coverage, you can enroll in a stand-alone Part D Plan.
IMPORTANT: You may pay a penalty on your premium if you don't sign up for Part D coverage when you become eligible for Medicare, unless you qualify for an exception.
Timing is everything.
Your first chance to enroll in Medicare is the Initial Enrollment Period or IEP. The IEP is three months before your birthday, your birthday month, and three months after the month of your 65th birthday. To be covered the first day of your birthday month, you must enroll before the month you turn 65. If you enroll during your birthday month or later, coverage will state on the first day of the month following the date you enrolled.
It makes a difference where you live.
Across the United State Medicare Parts A and B are the same. It is Medicare Parts C and D that are offered by private companies and may be available only in certain counties, states or regions. There are some Part C and D plans that offer nationwide coverage. Medicare supplement policies offer nationwide coverage and are available by state.
Review your choices once a year.
A lot can change in a year when it comes to your health. When you choose your Medicare coverage, remember you are not locked in. You can change your plans every year during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) , October 15-December 7. It is a good idea to check your coverage every year to make sure it still fits your needs.
Special Election Period (SEP)
You may be able to enroll in or switch plans outside the IEP or AEP if there are changes in your life situation such as:
• You retire and leave a health care plan through your union or employer
• You move out of your current health plan's service area
Get started, look at your current coverage.
If you have group coverage from your job, or retiree insurance from a former employer, you'll want to see how it fits with Medicare.
Help is available.
To find out which plan is right for you and finding government programs that offer extra help with costs, go to MedicareMadeclear.com or contact our agency, (716) 366-2744.
Don't forget to check out our Retirement page for more information on Medicare, Long Term Care Insurance, and other helpful resources to help you prepare for the next stage of your life.