Medicare, created by Congress in 1965 and one of our countries best, if not most complicated programs, will hold its annual Open Enrollment this Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.
Those people aging into the Medicare at age 65, as well as those 65 years and older, are eligible to sign-up for a new plan or to make changes to an existing plan during this time-period. The Medicare plan also covers younger people with disabilities and those with ESRD.
The plan is divided roughly into three parts:
Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care
Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services
Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drugs (including many recommended shots or vaccines)
With Medicare you have options in how you receive your coverage and there are two main ways.
Original Medicare includes Parts A and B and if you want prescription coverage, you can add a separate Part D. Original Medicare pays for much, but not all, of the covered health care services and supplies. A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy can help pay some of the remaining health care costs, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
Medicare Advantage is a Medicare-approved plan from a private company that offers an alternative to Original Medicare for your health and drug coverage. These plans may offer additional benefits such as vision and dental services but are usually not as robust in over-all medical coverage as Original Medicare.
It is vitally important that you understand the complexities of Medicare – it is likely to be the best health coverage you have ever had – so make certain that you choose a qualified and knowledgeable broker to assist you with enrollment and changes.