An Overview of Medicare Plans & Services
We take the mystery out of Medicare by helping you understand the system and offering plans to fill in the gaps.
This page is designed to give you a better understanding of how Medicare works. Knowledge is power, so knowing more about Medicare will put you in a better position to determine the best coverage for your needs and budget.
Three Basic Approaches to Medicare
There are three basic options when it comes to Medicare coverage, namely:
original Medicare; Part D and/or a supplement; and Medicare Advantage. Keep
reading to learn more.
Original Medicare (Parts A and B)
Original Medicare includes Parts A and B and is public health insurance coverage offered by the federal government. (The annual 2023 Part B deductible is $226.) Original Medicare helps cover:
- Doctor visits and services, including many preventative services and yearly checkups
- Outpatient care in hospitals
- Inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities
- Various in-home medical care services and equipment
- Hospice, including some in-home care
However, there are some things that original Medicare does not cover, such as long-term care and prescription drugs, as well as vision, dental, and hearing care. For more comprehensive coverage, you’ll need to look at other Medicare options. To find out what those are, keep reading.
A Medicare Supplement plus a Prescription Drug Plan (Part D)
Medicare Supplement can include coverage for the following:
- Medicare Part A or Part B deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance
- Medicare Part B excess charges
- Skilled Nursing Facility copayments
- Emergency care while traveling abroad
Medicare Part D provides coverage that helps you pay for prescription drugs. It also gives you access to other purchasing options, including many retail drug stores and mail-order drugs.
When choosing this Medicare approach, you have the option of choosing a Medicare Supplement and/or a drug plan.
Medicare Advantage (Part C)
A Medicare Advantage Plan—also referred to as Part C—is a comprehensive plan which includes medical and drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans have little or no premiums but have copays for some services. They may also include benefits not covered by Medicare, such as vision and dental.
When can I enroll in Medicare and/or Medicare Plans?
There are several different times throughout the year in which you can enroll in Medicare and/or Medicare plans. Here they are:
Initial Coverage Period
Your enrollment period includes the three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and the three months after you turn 65—seven months total. As soon as you are eligible, you can sign up for Medicare coverage.
Annual Enrollment Period (Oct 15 – Dec 7)
During the Annual Enrollment Period from October 15th to December 7th, you will be able to change or enroll in a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan. Your new coverage period will begin on January 1st the following year.
Open Enrollment Period (Jan 1 – Mar 31)
During the Open Enrollment Period, those who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage + Part D plan (MAPD) will be able to switch to another MAPD plan, a MA-only plan, or to Original Medicare with or without a prescription drug plan.
Aside from the above-listed enrollment periods, there are also Special Enrollment Periods. These are granted based on certain life events, or in the case of those who are eligible for low-income subsidy (also called “Extra Help”). During Special Enrollment Periods, you will be able to sign up for a Part D with or without a Medicare supplement, or a Medicare Advantage plan.
Which Medicare plan is right for me?
The best Medicare approach is going to depend entirely on you—your life circumstances, your goals, your finances, and any number of other important factors. The good news is that you don’t have to figure it out alone. We’re here to help, and it all starts with getting a Medicare quote.