Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older. The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:
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. Most people will pay a standard Part B premium which varies depending on income.
Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) roll Part A & B into one plan and have several options that may provide more coverage than your original Medicare.
Medicare Supplements work together with your original Medicare to cover things like your deductible, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Medicare Part D Plans add prescription drug coverage to your original Medicare.
Eligibility and Enrollment
To sign up for original Medicare Parts A & B, along with Part D, most people will have an Initial Enrollment Period which is a 7 month period around the time they turn age 65. This period begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
Once your Initial Enrollment Period is over, if you wish to change or purchase Advantage or Part D Plans, you must act during the open enrollment period.
Annual Open Enrollment: October 15th through December 7th.
Note that you must already be enrolled in Original Medicare to purchase
Medicare Advantage Plans, Supplement Plans or Part D Plans.
Medicare Special Enrollment – Qualifying Events
Once enrolled in Medicare, if you wish to change or purchase Medicare Advantage and Part Plans, you must act during the open enrollment period.
When open enrollment is closed, there are special circumstances in which one may qualify to enroll outside of the enrollment period. Listed below are the qualifying events:
- You are turning 65
- You move to a new area that is not in your current plan’s service area
- Recently moved back to the US
- You lose your current coverage (either Group or Medicaid)
- You now need a SNP (Special Needs Plan) or you no longer need a SNP