Medicare: How Much Choice is There?

by Natalie Toalson, Owner/Agent, SHARP: Senior Health And Retirement Professionals, LLC

For many Arizona residents approaching 65, Medicare can be perplexing.

Medicare Part A is the largest piece of the pie. This covers any necessary hospitalizations along with skilled nursing facilities after a hospitalization. If it’s ever a need, this section also covers hospice care and additional home health services.

Along with Medicare Part B, which covers your necessary medical expenses such as doctor’s services, outpatient care, preventative care and medical equipment, these two parts of Medicare combined are what typically covers 80% of a patient’s medical costs.

Medicare Part C is the section of Medicare coverage known as Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage can be a place where people over the age of 65 may not realize they can garner assistance in choosing which plan can fill any gap and allow their medical needs adequately served.

Medicare Advantage is an agreement between Medicare and a private insurance company that have contracted relationships with Medicare to administer Parts A, B, and even at times Part D on behalf of the government.

Medicare Part D is the last component piece of this pie. Medicare Part D covers a portion of your prescription drug costs.

Medicare supplements can be an entirely mind boggling part of Medicare. There are a variety of Medicare supplement options, and every one of them covers different types of expenses.

First, only those currently covered by Original Medicare: Parts A and B are eligible for Medicare supplemental insurance. Any seniors with only Part C or Medicare Advantage cannot actually purchase a Medicare supplement coverage option. Medicare supplement coverage is through a private insurance company. This where your choice comes in.

Open enrollment for Medicare starts Oct. 15 and now is the time to start looking at your Medicare Advantage and supplement plan options.

If you’re just turning 65 or have just turned 65 within the last three months, then this is your time. Your eligibility to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B at this age occurs during the three months prior to the month of your birthday all the way up until three months after your birthday.

Every year there’s what’s called an annual election period when beneficiaries of Medicare are given the option to change their current Advantage Plan or select a new one if they’ve not been participating in one.