Medicare has been around for 50 years. You’d think in all that time, things would have gotten easier, but sadly, it’s just become MORE confusing and more complicated.

If you are approaching 65, you’ve likely started getting bombarded with calls, emails, and direct mail pieces. As you start looking over them, you’ve probably gotten confused more than once by the terminology, multiple dates to remember, enrollment instructions, and part options.

For many of us, our employers have always narrowed it down, giving us 1-4 plans to chose from… not hundreds of them from multiple carriers.

First, you aren’t alone in feeling this. We speak to thousands of people every month, and believe us, they are all confused, too.  Here are 4 tips to help you get a better understanding of this whole Medicare thing:

The Medicare Basics

Who can get Medicare?

  • Anyone US citizen who is 65 or older, or permanent residents who have lived in the US 5 years or more
  • Anyone who has qualified for Social Security disability for 24 months

The Medicare Parts

What are my options?

Here is where people start to get confused. With so many plans to chose from, and the desire to pick the right plan, it can get scary fast.

Original Medicare will consist of Parts A and B. These are provided by the federal government, as you might notice because you enroll for these 2 parts through the Social Security office.

In general, at a high-level view,

Part A is hospital coverage, meaning your room and board in a hospital (or a skilled nursing facility.)

Part B is outpatient coverage, which covers things like doctor visits, equipment, surgeries, etc.

Part D is prescription drug coverage. This plan allows you to get your prescriptions at much lower prices than retail. This is a plan for both current and future needs. It’s important to consider because prescriptions, especially when paid out-of-pocket, can be expensive and add up quickly.

When you turn 65, you become eligible for all three of these plans or earlier if you have a qualifying disability.

Medicare Supplemental Coverage

What are my options?

Now that you know what is covered in Parts A, B, and D, let us tell you a little about additional supplemental coverage you can consider.

Medigap Plans: Also referred to as Medicare supplements, these plans pay AFTER Medicare. Meaning, your Medicare plan would cover 80% and you would pay the remaining 20%, unless you had Medigap, which will cover the remaining fees. These plans also allow you to see whatever provider you prefer, not just those in the Medicare system. Because of this, many people opt to have this plan so they can stay with the doctors they have used for years and have grown to trust.

Medicare Advantage Plans: Also referred to as Part C, these plans pay INSTEAD of Medicare. These plans are optional and bought through private insurance companies. They usually contain an HMO or PPO style plan, like you might be familiar with from current or previous employers. Most of these plans include Part D drug benefit.

Do you feel like you could still use help understanding Medicare or finding the right plan? We’re here to help. Click here to take our quiz and see which plans and benefits you may qualify for. We’ve helped thousands of people find the right plan for their needs. We can help you, too.