| Thu, Sep 27, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

The Medicare Two-Step: The Path to Your Enrollment Choices

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

medicare open enrollment oep Welcome to Countdown to OEP! This is the first part of a two-part series designed by Medicare Made Clear to help you navigate the 2013 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP). Countdown to OEP gives you key information that can help you get ready for OEP. The second part of the series, OEP Boot Camp, starts in October.

As you count down to OEP, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is what type of coverage you may need. Medicare offers many choices. Is Original Medicare enough or do you need more? Maybe you need benefits like dental or vision coverage. Or maybe you’re just looking for some help paying for Original Medicare. Deciding which path to take can help you get the Medicare coverage you need when OEP rolls around.

Step One: Original Medicare

If you’ve already enrolled in Original Medicare, congratulations! You’ve completed the first step on your path to Medicare enrollment. If you’re “aging into” Medicare before or during the OEP, it’s important that you enroll in Original Medicare when you first become eligible. Enrolling in Original Medicare when you’re first eligible can help you avoid paying late enrollment penalties. It can also help you see if this coverage meets your needs or if you need more.

Original Medicare is provided to eligible people by the government. It’s divided into two parts based on what’s covered:

  • Part A – hospital insurance
  • Part B – doctor and outpatient insurance

Step Two: Other Coverage Options

Whether or not you’ve decided you need more coverage than Original Medicare offers, it can be helpful to see what else is out there. Step two of your Medicare journey includes looking at these other options.

If you want to keep Original Medicare, but need a “little something” extra, you might want to consider adding:

  • Medicare Supplement insurance plan. Medicare Supplement insurance is offered by private insurance companies. It helps pay for some of the costs Original Medicare doesn’t pay.

  • Medicare Part D. Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. This is not included in Original Medicare, but is offered by private insurance companies. If you don’t already have prescription drug coverage when you sign up for Original Medicare, you might want to sign up ASAP. This may help you avoid paying late enrollment penalties. It’s also a good way to help make sure there won’t be any gaps in your coverage.

If you’re looking for a convenient, “all-in-one” plan, you may want to consider a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans, also called Medicare Part C, are offered by private insurance companies. They provide the coverage of Original Medicare and may offer extra benefits, like dental and vision coverage, or wellness services. Many also provide prescription drug coverage. Note: if you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you can’t be sold Medicare supplement insurance.

Those are the two main steps that might help you decide your path to Medicare enrollment. To get the whole picture, check out the Two-Step Guide to Your Medicare Enrollment Choices on the Medicare Made Clear website.

Remember: Even though it’s up to you to learn about your Medicare plan choices in time for the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7), you’re not alone. Do you think you might need more information about any of the steps above? The previous post in this series, Where Can I Get Help Choosing the Right Medicare Plan for Me (or My Loved One)?, might help.

But wait—there’s more! Come back for the next installment of Countdown to OEP: Decoding Medicare’s Alphabet Soup.

Read other posts in the OEP Countdown series:

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: 

Learn About Medicare—MedicareMadeClear.com

Medicare Choices Worksheet—MedicareMadeClear.com

Two-Step Guide to Your Medicare Enrollment Choices—MedicareMadeClear.com

 

 

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