Many seniors are unsure of what is Medicare and what it can do for them. They may not know how to sign up or even which plan to choose. We’re going to explain Medicare for you simply and show you what kind of options it offers for seniors so that you can make the best decision for you.
The US government operates its own medical insurance service, known as Medicare. It provides affordable healthcare coverage for seniors through this service. Some insurance plans it sells itself, and others are sold through private insurance companies. Medicare regulates those plans offered by other companies to ensure that they abide by its standards and that they offer standardized coverage. That way, no matter which insurance company you go to in order to buy insurance, you know what you are getting and what kind of options will be available to you.
You will have to pay a monthly premium with any 2020 Medicare plan, whether you are buying it through Medicare or not. If you meet certain medical or financial conditions, your premium may be reduced or waived completely. You may also need to pay an annual deductible for some of the plans as well as copayments for each visit to the doctor’s office or hospital.
The Medicare plans are divided into a few parts. Each part covers a different aspect of healthcare expenses. The most basic parts are Part A and Part B. These cover the most common outpatient and inpatient services at hospitals, nursing facilities and doctor’s offices. Many of your lab tests, ambulance services, hospital room expenses, checkups are more will be covered under these parts of Medicare. You can buy them as a package deal, called Original Medicare, and you will rarely find them sold separately.
Medicare Part C combines those two parts as well, but it offers you further coverage. It can take care of your emergency and urgently needed medical care, as well as other expenses. This is sold by private insurance, usually under the name Advantage plan, and it often includes coverage for vision, hearing and wellness checkups, as well as for prescription drug costs.
Part D offer coverage for prescription drug costs, and it is sold privately as well. As with all Medicare plans, however, the base coverage is decided by Medicare, but the individual insurance companies can decide whether they want to sell these plans at all, how much they want to charge for them and how they want to set up the coverage. You’ll find differences in coverage from one provider to the next, so it’s important to compare them and find the one that covers you in your situation the best.
Hopefully that answers your questions about what is Medicare. Now let’s look at how you can sign up for these plans.
Signing up for Medicare Coverage
It’s up to you when you want to sign up for Medicare. You can apply at any time, but your application is only going to be approved if you meet the eligibility requirements. That means you have to be age 65 or meet certain medical criteria, such as having a disability or suffering from end stage renal disease.
You may be ready to sign up for Medicare coverage right now, but you usually have to wait for Open Enrollment to be approved for any plan. This is a period that comes along once each year and extends for about two months. The dates are slightly different each year, so check the dates for this year before you start applying for Medicare plans. During Open Enrollment, you are guaranteed to be approved for whichever plan you qualify for, even if you go to a private insurance company. The private companies cannot use your pre existing medical conditions, during this time, as a way to increase your costs or deny your application request. They have to approve you for whatever plan you chose at the lowest possible price that applies to you.
Once you have signed up for a Medicare plan, you may not be able to cancel the plan or change it to something else until the term for your current plan is over. You choose how long the term is for, and that term locks in your rates and protects you from changes until it is expired. It also keeps you from easily changing out your coverage, though, but you may be able to add coverage on top of that.
Using Plans Together
Medicare plans are meant to work together and complement one another, If you have Original Medicare, you can sign up for Part C or Part D. However, sometimes Part C will include Part D coverage for prescription drugs. If that is the case, then you won’t be able to purchase Part D on top of that, because you would be paying for the same coverage twice, and that’s not something that Medicare will allow.
You have to be careful about which plans you try to sign up for, and while you can have multiple plans active at once, you can’t just choose any plans you want. Some of them are not compatible with one another, and you just have to decide which coverage plan would suit you best.
Not all of the available plans may be good options for you. It may be only necessary to purchase minimal coverage, and you may not need a robust medical insurance plan. Take your time and look through what your options are in order to choose the most suitable plan for your needs. As your needs change, your plan and your coverage may need to as well.
Those who were wondering what is Medicare should now understand a bit more about it and how it can save them money on medical care. If you are 65, then you may already qualify for Medicare, and you can start enjoying those savings as soon as Open Enrollment comes around again.