3 Steps to Choosing the Right Medicare Plan

It’s no secret that aging adults require more healthcare services than other age groups. Thankfully, tens of millions of American seniors can rely on Medicare to help meet their health needs.

Medicare is a huge government health insurance program that’s administered by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and currently serves more than 55 million people. Similar to private insurance, there are rules, requirements and conditions that apply, and often they are in flux.

Enrollment in the right plan is key, whether it’s during the initial sign-up period beginning three months prior to an eligible senior’s 65th birthday, or during the program’s annual Open Enrollment Period occurring every year from October 15th through December 7th.

Let us share three steps you can use to begin to identify the right plan for you or change plans during this time period.

1. Decide if you want “Original Medicare” or a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Medicare is divided into four main parts, called Parts A-D. Medicare A and B are known as Original Medicare, as they are the original components constructed under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

Medicare Part A and B offer hospital and medical services coverage, and is essentially a fee-for-service system in which the government pays directly for your covered health care costs.

Part C is an alternative to Original Medicare, known as Medicare Advantage. This allows program beneficiaries to receive Medicare benefits through a private health insurance plan and private health insurance carriers to receive payments from Medicare to cover beneficiaries’ medical costs.

2. Decide if you want Medicare Part D, prescription drug coverage.

If you want prescription drug coverage in addition to Original Medicare, you must opt for Medicare Part D and join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. There’s usually a monthly premium attached, and these plans are run by private companies approved by Medicare. You do not have to opt for Part D. Most Medicare Advantage plans already offer prescription drug coverage.

3. Decide if you want supplemental coverage.

If you select Original Medicare, you have the option of obtaining supplemental coverage to help pay for costs that Part A and B do not cover, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. For example, you could buy a “Medigap” policy from a private company. However, you won’t be able to buy or use supplemental coverage to reduce uncovered health care costs if you have a Medicare Advantage plan.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Do not wait to find the information you need during Medicare Open Enrollment.

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