What is Medicare and how do I use it?
Parts A, B, C and D
Medicare is divided into 4 parts with two primary parts (A and B) being the ones most people will use.
Part A covers your hospital bills when admitted as an inpatient. Part A also covers skilled nursing, home health care and hospice.
Part B is for doctor bills, preventive care and most screening tests.
Part C is commonly referred to as an Advantage plan. Advantage plans combine the benefits of parts A and B and sometimes D under one policy. Unlike Medicare A and B, Advantage plans are offered through private insurance companies. Those who elect a part C (Advantage plan) are taken off original Medicare and covered by private insurance.
Part D covers prescription drugs and is a separate plan purchased through private insurance companies.
All Medicare beneficiaries receive basic care under original Medicare but you are also responsible for deductibles, copay’s and coinsurance. These amounts can run into the hundreds, or even thousands of dollars if you do not have a supplement plan.
Enrolling in Medicare
For most people, enrolling in Medicare is automatic. When you turn age 65, if you (or your spouse) have been in the Social Security system for at least 10 years you should be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.
If you are covered under an employer group health plan that will continue past age 65 you may not need Part B and can consider deferring Part B until your group plan terminates.
You may also want to review Welcome to Medicare for more details.