There’s a lot to look forward to as a senior – grandchildren, retirement, time to travel or take up a new hobby…but there’s a lot to think about, too. Staying informed can help you make the best choice for your situation, and can help you plan for the costs of health care if you go on Medicare.
Making Sense of Medicare:
What is Medicare?
Medicare is a health insurance program from the Federal government that pays for some (but not all) health care costs. It is intended for people over age 65, younger people with disabilities and those with End-Stage Renal Disease. Medicare is made up of four parts:
Part A helps cover inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care and some home health care; long-term care (custodial care) is not covered
Part B helps cover doctor visits, outpatient services, home health care, durable medical equipment and some preventive services
Part C is handled by private insurance companies that have been approved by Medicare, and include the benefits of Part A and Part B and usually the prescription drug coverage in Part D
Part D is also handled by private insurance companies with Medicare’s approval, and helps cover some prescription drug costs
Do I have to pay for Medicare?
Medicare Part A is usually free because you (or your spouse) paid Medicare taxes while working. Medicare Part B and Part D are optional and charge a premium. You may be charged a premium for Part C although prices vary by plan.
What happens if I miss my initial enrollment period?
If you miss your initial enrollment period, you may have to pay higher premiums, though there are some exceptions. That’s why it’s important to understand your rights, options and entitlements. Can I have other kinds of health insurance?
Yes, you can have other types of health insurance, like employer coverage or Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance. Make sure you check with your employer to see how any coverage you have with them will interact with Medicare.
What is Medicare Supplement insurance?
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance is a health plan to help cover the costs Medicare doesn’t pay. Most states offer the same standardized plans.
To learn more, visit Medicare.gov. Or, for more personalized service, consider contacting an insurance producer who can explain your options.
Information from: “Medicare & You,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2017