Tips for Wading Through Medicare and Getting Covered

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Do you find Medicare confusing? Don’t worry. So does everybody. In fact, it’s much worse than confusing to many seniors. According to one poll, almost one-fourth of respondents said that evaluating their Medicare plan was either the most unpleasant or second-most unpleasant experience they could go through, with other options including a colonoscopy or a visit to the dentist. Nonetheless, you need the vital coverage Medicare provides, which means sorting through the alphabet soup of Parts A through D (and more!) to arrive at a plan that works for you. Here’s a series of questions that will help you do that.

What Is Original Medicare?
Original Medicare refers to Parts A and B, which cover hospital visits, treatment in skilled nursing facilities, laboratory testing, and medical equipment, among other items. You are eligible once you reach the age of 65, though this coverage may not meet all your needs, as it excludes long-term care as well as dental, vision and hearing care.

Do I need an Advantage Plan?
A Medicare Advantage Plan, sometimes called Part C, might be best if you require more extensive coverage than is offered by Original Medicare. There are advantages to going this route, such as limits on out-of-pocket expenses, but that comes with a lack of nationwide coverage and difficulty changing policies.

Would Medigap Be Better?
Perhaps Original Medicare is too little and Medicare Advantage is too much. If you have Medicare but want a little extra, Medigap (denoted by letters F, G, K, L, M, and N) offers supplemental coverage that fills in the “gaps” left by Parts A and B, thus reducing what could be significant out-of-pocket fees. Premiums are often higher than with Part C, though they come with greater freedom concerning which physicians and facilities you can visit for treatment.

What Do I Get Out of Part D?
By enrolling in Part D, you’ll get coverage for prescription medication, which is a godsend for many considering the skyrocketing price of drugs in recent years. It’s often included in Advantage Plans, but can be purchased separately through private insurers in your area. Shop around, as not all policies are the same.

How Can I Save Money?
You can pay less overall by choosing the Medicare plan that addresses your risk of falling victim to injury and illness, and that’s based on your lifestyle, physical fitness, and family medical history. An expert speaking to Kiplinger says that you could save significantly by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan and Part D if you’re in good health.

Where Can I Find More Information?
The links provided above are stepping stones, however you can also get free advice on your Medicare choices by contacting your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, though the name may differ depending on what state you live in. You’ll get answers to your most pressing questions, and it won’t cost you anything but a little of your time.

How Do I Sign Up?
Enrolling in Parts A and B is simple as you can do it online at the Social Security Administration’s website, according to which the process takes as little as 10 minutes. As for Medicare Advantage, Medigap and Part D, that requires finding a plan from a local insurer, though you may be able to register electronically as well.If you need some motivation to wade into this sea of information, just think of the relief you’ll feel once you’ve made a decision and enrolled in the right plan. It’s one less thing to worry about going into retirement, which you’ll be able to enjoy with peace of mind.