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Break Down Medicare and Choose the Right Plan

Break Down Medicare and Choose the Right Plan (0)

You may be close to retirement, but it’s not too late to review your ABCs, at least not when it comes to Medicare. Having learned a little about this important government program, which has aided millions of seniors in acquiring affordable medical care in their golden years, you know that’s a veritable alphabet soup of coverage, with letters denoting everything from hospital care to prescription medication. When you string it all together, it’s confusing, to say the least. However, don’t let the system get the best of you. Medicare becomes clearer if you break it apart bit by bit and do some additional research to find a plan that works best for you. Here’s a brief guide to help you sort it out, starting with the major parts. Part A In general, Part A covers hospital stays in the case of a medical emergency, and that includes a semi-private room along with skilled nursing, among many other services, but there are often co-pays involved. A part of Original Medicare, you become eligible when turning 65, and those who already receive Social Security benefits are automatically enrolled. Part B Also a part of Original Medicare, Part B covers outpatient care for medical conditions as well as some preventative care including vaccinations. Like Part A, you become eligible at the age of 65. Contrary to popular belief, it’s optional, though there are penalties for late enrollment. Part C Now things get a little more complicated. Part C actually refers to Medicare Advantage plans, which are an alternative to Parts A and B, usually including additional services such as hearing and vision care. These plans are available through private insurance companies, which usually charge a premium and put limits on what physicians and facilities you can turn to for care, generally only allowing those that are within a particular network. Part D You may have noticed a lack of coverage for prescription medication, and this is where Part D comes in. If you choose Original Medicare, then Part D can be sought as a standalone. However, it’s also normally included in Medicare Advantage plans, or Part C. In either case, it’s highly recommended considering the high cost of most drugs. There’s More Many discussions of Medicare focus on Parts A through D, leaving out Medigap entirely. If you’re wondering what that refers to, it’s supplemental insurance for those who need more coverage than Original Medicare has to offer but don’t want to spring for an Advantage plan. Like the latter, Medigap is available through private insurers. Helpful Info Online Luckily, you’ll find plenty of resources on the internet as you navigate the various options for coverage and common terminology. In fact, there are so many that it’s difficult to know where to begin. However, the best bet would be the government’s official Medicare website, with information on what’s covered, what isn’t and how much it all costs. It’s a chore wading through all that information, and you still may not find answers to all your questions. In that case, talk to an expert, and that’s possible through SeniorsPlus, which offers free counseling over the phone. They’ll help you narrow down your coverage choices. Signing Up When it comes to enrolling, that can be done easily enough at the government’s Medicare website above, at least for Parts A and B. Parts C, D, and Medigap, however, are a little trickier and involve contacting private insurers in your area. Staying Healthy Just because you have coverage doesn’t mean you should use it. You can avoid trips to the hospital and expensive medical treatment altogether by eating right, exercising, and getting a good night’s rest. Fitness is an entire lifestyle, according to the Odyssey, but you’ll find it more enjoyable — and invigorating — than being a couch potato. It’s best not to perform all of your research in one go. Set small goals and spread them out over the course of a few weeks, which keeps the process from becoming too stressful. And remember the pot of gold at the end: your continued good health and peace of mind. Sharon Wagner is a senior care advisor and guest writer for Evergreen Cottages. You can find more information on her website www.SeniorFriendly.info or reach Sharon by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.: Seniorfriendly.info | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Image via Pexels

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