When you become eligible for Medicare, you get a lot of options. This is a good thing. The more options you have, the more empowered you’ll be to take control of your healthcare and medical costs. But it also means you have a lot of big choices to make. To navigate your choices successfully, you need to have the right information.
Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage
The main choice that Medicare enrollees make is between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.
Original Medicare refers to Medicare Part A, which provides hospital insurance, and Medicare Part B, which provides medical insurance. Most people qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A, but there is a monthly premium for Medicare Part B. Enrollees also pay other costs, including deductibles and copays or coinsurance.
Medicare Advantage plans, sometimes called Medicare Part C, are offered by private insurance companies. These plans combine Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B into one plan, and many also provide prescription drug coverage as well as other benefits not covered under Original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage plans use a network of providers, so it’s important to check that your preferred providers are in-network. Medicare Advantage plans charge a monthly premium that enrollees pay on top of the Medicare Part B premium, but this can be as low as $0.
Every year, during the Annual Election Period that runs from October 15 to December 7, Medicare enrollees get to make plan changes for the following year. During this time, enrollees can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare, or from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
Watch this video to learn about the different types of Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans
If you enroll in Original Medicare, you may choose to also enroll in a Medicare Supplemental Insurance policy, also called Medigap. These plans require a premium payment, but they can help cover the out-of-pocket costs associated with Original Medicare. Some plans also provide coverage for foreign travel emergencies, which may be useful if you plan to travel outside of the United States.
Medigap policies are not designed to go with Medicare Advantage plans. The best time to enroll in a Medigap plan is when you first become eligible. After that, medical underwriting may be used, and you could be denied coverage or charged more as a result.
Several standardized Medigap plan types are available.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage. Many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, and if you’re in one of these plans, you will not need a separate Medicare Part D plan.
Medicare Part D plans charge a monthly premium. However, when comparing Medicare Part D plans, you shouldn’t just focus on the premium. You should also consider how much the specific prescriptions you take will cost under the plan.
During the Annual Election Period, you can compare Medicare Part D plan options in your area and select a plan for the following year.
Watch this video to learn more about which drugs are covered under Medicare plans.
Although most people enroll in either Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage, there are a few other types of Medicare plans, including Medicare Cost Plans and Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).
Watch this video to learn more about other types of Medicare health plans and projects.
Need assistance? PTT Financial’s licensed independent agents can help you navigate your options. Contact us to learn more.