Signing up for Medicare is the first step and must be done before you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Supplement plan. The enrollment in Medicare means you have signed up for Parts A and B. The two together are commonly known as Original Medicare! You now have some options before you. You can just keep Original Medicare and purchase a standalone drug plan or you can choose a Medicare Supplement Plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Let’s take a quick look at each:
Original Medicare Alone:
This coverage is a bare bone alternative. We would not recommend this because of two factors. The first is that you must purchase a standalone drug plan which is an additional expense. Yet more importantly is that you are responsible for a lot of “gaps” that include a 20% copay on Doctor Visits and Labs as well as Deductibles on hospital visits. This can run in to thousands of dollars!!
Supplemental Plans (Medigap):
These plans have excellent coverage as they allow you to budget wisely while knowing you have complete freedom to visit any Doctor or Hospital you wish to as long as they take Medicare and for the most part your out of pocket expenses are minimal. However, they do have a monthly premium to pay along with your payment to Medicare and it is necessary to purchase a standalone drug plan. You are basically paying for your medical expenses upfront.
Medicare Advantage Plans:
These plans have become extremely popular. You are basically letting the insurance company administer your health care and Medicare will pick up the cost to the insurance company. They are popular because the monthly cost of the plan is low, and in many cases has a $0 cost. The plans also typically include drug coverage as part of the plan, so you avoid having to pay for a standalone drug plan. Medicare Advantage Plans are network-based which means that it is always convenient to stay within the network or in the case of an HMO, it is obligatory to see only Doctors or Hospitals in the network
Frequently Asked Questions
Cost of Medicare
Do I have to enroll in Medicare?
Why does the Medicare card come automatically to some and not to others?
May I have Medicare and postpone my Social Security retirement benefits?
If I have an HMO and have an emergency in another State will I be covered?
Why am I getting so much mail and so many calls?
If I move may I take my Medicare Advantage plan with me?
Can I change plans later?
Yes. However there are enrollment periods for different situations the main one being from October 15 through December 7 of every year.