| Tue, May 29, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Your Medicare Coverage Choices

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Your Medicare Coverage ChoicesMedicare Advantage is an alternative to traditional Original Medicare. It’s another way to get your Medicare coverage.

No matter which way you decide to get your coverage, you first need to enroll in Medicare. But that’s just the first step.

A Little Background

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for:

  • People 65 and older

  • People under 65 with certain disabilities

  • People of any age with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), which is permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant

Medicare includes Parts A, B, C and D. Each part provides coverage for certain kinds of care.

Original Medicare is health insurance administered by Medicare itself. It includes Part A and Part B. Part A provides coverage for hospital inpatient care. Part B provides coverage for doctor visits and outpatient care. You can get Part A, Part B or both.

Medicare Advantage is Part C. It is health insurance administered by private companies approved by Medicare. Every Medicare Advantage plan must provide all the coverage offered by Parts A and B together. Most also cover prescription drugs (Part D). Many cover dental, vision and hearing care as well.

Enrolling in Medicare

You must enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B if you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Also, you remain enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B even if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

This can be confusing. It may help to think of it like this: Enrolling in the Medicare program is one thing. Choosing how you want to get your Medicare coverage is another.

In fact, you can change how you receive your benefits as your needs change. You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa, as long as you are enrolled in both Parts A and B. You have a chance to make this switch every year during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

Three Steps to Medicare Advantage

You can get from enrolling in Medicare to enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan in three easy steps. It all depends on your choices.

  1. Choose and enroll in Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B or both.

  2. If you enroll in both Part A and Part B, then choose Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage.

  3. If you choose Medicare Advantage, then choose and enroll in a specific Medicare Advantage plan.

It’s important to know that if you enroll in Part A, Part B or both and do nothing else, you will receive your benefits through Original Medicare. Also, people already receiving Social Security benefits at age 65 are automatically enrolled in both parts.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

Your Medicare Coverage Choices: Guide to understand your Medicare coverage choices at Medicare.gov

Getting Started: Basic information about Medicare from Medicare Made Clear

Medicare & You 2012: The official U.S. government Medicare handbook

Y0066_120402_142830 File & Use 04142012