What are my options if I go to Medicare?
If you have worked for at least 10 years and contributed to Social Security, you are eligible to receive health insurance through the Medicare program. Although enrollment in certain parts of the program is automatic when you turn 65, research and find the best options for other parts.
Part A and Part B – Automatic Enrollment
Medicare Parts A and B cover part of the costs of your stay in hospital (A) and the necessary medical appointments (B) (along with some preventive care). Part A registration is automatic, while Part B is automatic for most Americans, but some situations require registration. For example, if you do not retire but are 65, you can claim your Medicare benefits separately from Social Security.
Part A is annual deductible and co-insurance hospital insurance for extended stays. Part B is medical insurance with a low-cost monthly co-pay premium and annual deductible that is roughly the same cost for those who are eligible for Medicare, depending on income. If you choose not to participate in Part B when you first qualify, you might have to pay a penalty for late enrollment if you decide to re-enroll during the next period.
Part C – Medicare Advantage
Not all of your medical expenses will be covered by parts A and B; Many people opt for Medicare Advantage (part C). Medicare Advantage is Medicare approved private insurance offered by independent insurance companies.
Medicare Advantage offers benefits similar to those you would have with health insurance through your employer. There are different levels of coverage and different amounts of monthly premiums. Your Medicare Advantage plan will have full Parts A and B coverage, with additional options for private healthcare coverage.
When you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, you are still enrolled in Medicare and continue to pay your monthly Part B premium, but you will have a card from your private health insurance company. You will have lower copays and deductibles than just Medicare. You may also have vision, dental care, and other additional health care options that you would not otherwise get.
Part D – Prescription Coverage
Prescription drugs may be covered by your Medicare Advantage plan, but you can also purchase them yourself through a private insurance company that has been approved by Medicare. Anyone eligible for Part A and enrolling in Part B can choose a Part D plan to apply for. Because many insurance companies offer Part D, prescription coverage is not standardized. Plans can select which medications or classes of medications they wish to cover, so it is important to research.