What should you know about Medicare?
Making decisions about health coverage can be pretty daunting, especially for people nearing retirement age who now have to get acquainted with Medicare.
Most people obtain Medicare once they turn age 65. However, there are other reasons that make people eligible at a younger age, such as having a qualifying disability or experience another situation.
For those who are approaching the magic age of 65, here’s a quick primer about Medicare:
Before making any decisions about Medicare coverage, look at your current health care coverage. If you’re covered through an employer or union, check if you’re able to continue that coverage or if need a Medicare plan.
Once you know you need Medicare coverage, you have two options: Original Medicare, which consists of two parts, A and B, or Medicare Advantage.
Within these two options, you have many choices: prescription drug coverage (Part D), supplemental coverage and more.
Timing is important. You can sign up for Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan as early as three months before you turn age 65. To enroll in Original Medicare, contact your local Social Security Office.
Medicare doesn’t cover everything. You may have copays, coinsurance, deductibles and other payments whether you choose a Medicare Advantage plan or Original Medicare.
Types of Medicare Coverage
Basically, there are two types of Medicare: Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Within those two general categories are a variety of other options, benefit levels and costs.
Offered directly through the Federal Government, Original Medicare is available at no cost to people who have worked, or whose spouse has worked, for at least 10 years and have paid Medicare taxes through their employer.
Part A has no monthly premium. It covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facilities, hospice, and some other skilled care.
Part B covers office visits, outpatient care, and other medical services that Part A doesn’t cover. There is a monthly cost based on income.
These are health plans offered through insurance companies that usually cover more services and have lower out-of-pocket costs than Original Medicare. You may also have a monthly premium, depending on the plan you choose.
Some Medicare Advantage plans include drug coverage. Choosing whether or not you need prescription coverage when you join a Medicare Advantage plan at age 65 is up to your needs.
Medicare Supplemental Policies
These policies are also known as “Medigap” plans, and cover some or all of the expenses not covered by Original Medicare. People who choose Original Medicare may want to have a Medigap policy. The premium is based on the plan selected.
Each of these options has pros, cons, varying costs, and coverage, so if you’re getting close to age 65, you’ll want to research your options sooner than later.
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