Medicare is the taxpayer-funded health insurance program for people who are 65 or older. It is also available to people who are younger than 65 if they have certain disabilities, such as permanent kidney failure. More than 62 million seniors in the United States are dependent on Medicare. It’s a critical part of their healthcare coverage, but what exactly does it cover and what else do seniors need to make sure they are properly insured?
Medicare Part A
Part A is essentially hospital insurance. It helps cover the costs of hospital inpatient care or limited time in a skilled nursing center after a hospital stay. It will also pay for some hospice and home health care.
Medicare Part B
Part B is more like a typical medical insurance plan. It helps cover costs for:
- Healthcare providers
- Home health care
- Outpatient care
- Preventive services
- Durable medical equipment
Medicare Part D
Part D helps cover prescription drug costs. Everyone with Medicare can get Medicare drug coverage. Even if you are not currently using prescription drugs, you will want to consider joining Part D because joining later, after you are first eligible, could lead to a late enrollment penalty. You would end up paying this penalty for the entire time you have this drug coverage.
Medicare Part C (All-in-One Coverage)
Part C is known as the Medicare Advantage Plan. It includes everything covered by Medicare Parts A, B and D. It also includes coverage for additional benefits like hearing, dental, and vision. It is all combined into one single plan.
How Do You Get Started?
You have many options when you reach age 65 and become eligible for Medicare. You should do your research and talk to an expert because there are important decisions to make and some critical steps to follow.
Enroll in Medicare Through Social Security
If you are receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B when you first become eligible. You will receive a “Welcome to Medicare” packet from the government three months before turning 65. Make sure you take time to read through that packet carefully because there are important deadlines and actions you will need to take. The packet also contains information about coverage options.
If you are not receiving Social Security benefits and are older than 65, or will be in the next three months, you will have to sign up on your own for Medicare Parts A and B. You will not receive it automatically.
If you live in Puerto Rico, you will only receive Medicare Part A. You will have to sign up for Medicare Part B.
Selecting Your Plan
There are many different coverage plans and you will receive a lot of information about your options. Much of that information will be detailed in your “Welcome to Medicare” packet that you receive from the government. You will also receive a “Medicare and You” handbook after you are enrolled. An updated version of this handbook will also be sent to you every fall. There will also be mail from private insurance providers, brokers, and agents marketing their Medicare plans.
Make sure you complete the “Year One: Medicare Checklist”
During your first year with Medicare, you will want to follow this checklist to make sure you are getting the benefits from your Medicare coverage and you are prepared in case of emergencies.
Medicare provides substantial healthcare benefits to millions of people. There is basic coverage, but there are also many options for additional coverage. You will have important decisions to make about medical coverage during a time when you will likely need it the most. At 1st Source bank we encourage you to do your research so you can make good decisions about your Medicare plan. If you have any questions or concerns we have people who can help.
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