Are you new to Medicare? All the details can seem intimidating, can’t they? Perhaps you feel there’s so much information and so many decisions to make that you don’t know where to begin. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Related: Medicare Part D Coverage
Before you decide which Medicare program would be right for you, you should assess your present needs.
Consider your recent medical history in light of these factors:
- How often you see your doctor;
- What prescription medications you currently take;
- How much you have to pay for these services;
- What your current insurance plan costs you.
It is important to know that you can’t apply for Medicare all year long.
There are specific time windows during which you must submit your application.
- Your Initial Enrollment Period lasts for seven months; this is when you apply for Medicare for the first time. It begins three months before you turn 65. However, if you are applying due to disability it begins 25 months after you receive your first disability check.
- The Annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period takes place between October 15th and December 7th. During this time you can change your existing coverage.
Even before your IEP you should consider the various options that Medicare offers you.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- One choice you have to make is between Original Medicare Parts A and B, which are offered by the government, and the Medicare Advantage program, or Part C, which is offered by government-approved private insurance companies. Medicare Advantage plans must provide at least the same coverage as Plans A and B.
- As far as prescription drugs are concerned, with Original Medicare you can buy drug coverage (A PDP Plan) separately. However, most Medicare Advantage programs include drug coverage, often at no extra cost.
- To take care of costs which are not covered, those who have Original Medicare often purchase Medicare supplemental insurance. In contrast, in a Medicare Advantage plan this supplemental insurance is not necessary, but there may be deductibles, co-pay, network limitations and other factors inherent in these plans.
- There are a number of different Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement insurance plans, and prescription drug plans available. Consider them all before you decide. Compare which plans will work best for you.
If afterwards you are still befuddled, don’t despair. There are various places you can turn to for help.
- Our website has a wealth of information, as does Medicare.gov; or
- You can Medicare for help at 1-800-633-4227.