If you are approaching 65 years of age – or already there – and have not taken steps to apply for Medicare, it’s time to give it serious thought.
Medicare’s open enrollment is in October, but any time is a good time to learn more about the process. It can be a bit complicated and confusing with its various parts and multiple choices. Here’s a crash course in Medicare 101 to make it easier to understand so you can make the most of it.
As Simple As A, B, C … and D
Medicare has four parts:
- Medicare Part A covers the cost of inpatient care in hospitals, rehabilitation care in a skilled nursing facility or hospice, and home healthcare after hospitalization. If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working, you probably don’t have to pay a monthly premium for Part A, but if you don’t qualify for premium-free coverage, you may need to pay a premium to get Part A insurance.
- Medicare Part B covers doctors’ and other healthcare professionals’ services, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, home healthcare, and preventive services, for which you pay a monthly premium.
- Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, includes health plans provided by Medicare-approved private insurance companies that offer the benefits and services covered under Parts A and B. In addition, most Medicare Advantage Plans offer Medicare prescription drug coverage, and some provide other benefits at an additional cost.
- Medicare Part D is prescription drug insurance offered by Medicare-approved private insurance companies to help cover the cost of medications.
And then, there’s Medigap, supplemental health insurance policies sold by private insurance companies that are not a part of Medicare but help cover certain healthcare costs not covered by Medicare. You’ll usually need Part A and B coverage to buy a Medigap policy unless you have a Medicare Advantage Plan.
When enrolling in Medicare for the first time, you’ll automatically have traditional Medicare (Parts A and B). If you prefer, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan during the annual “Open Enrollment Period” from October 15 to December 7.
Those who start receiving Social Security before turning 65 are automatically signed up for Medicare Parts A and B. If not, you’ll have to enroll on your own. Make sure you sign up for coverage as soon as you become eligible – ideally, early during your Initial Enrollment Period. The seven-month period includes the three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and the three months following your birthday. By enrolling during the first three months of your enrollment period, your coverage will start sooner.
You enroll in Medicare by visiting your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office or calling SSA at 800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
While Medicare is a government program that helps cover certain healthcare costs, it doesn’t always cover all your healthcare needs, such as long-term care or routine dental care. Nor does it always pay the entire cost of everything. So, choose the coverage that is right for your individual needs.
Medicare for Seniors in South and Central Florida
At Palm Medical Centers, we provide comprehensive primary health care for our senior patients and help them access and obtain the social services, including Medicare application and plan selections, available to them and their families.We have dedicated patient relations outreach representatives who work with ACCESS Florida representatives to streamline the process and help make it happen.
To learn more about all the benefits of becoming a patient at Palm Medical Centers,call us today at (833)500-PALM (7256) . If you would like to schedule a consultation, fill out our convenient online appointment request form.