Good health is what you need if you’re going to enjoy your retirement and your newfound freedom from the daily grind. Although you eat healthfully and exercise every day, injuries and illness may rear their ugly heads nonetheless, and that’s when you need insurance.
Fortunately, there’s Medicare, which offers coverage for all Americans over the age of 65, offering peace of mind throughout their golden years. Unfortunately, it’s extremely confusing, made up of various parts — A, B, C, D, and beyond! — each with their own caveats and stipulations. You may be dreading the day when you have to wade through it all.
However, don’t fret. If you take it slowly, step by step, you can gain a full understanding of this government health insurance program and what is has to offer, then make the right decisions regarding your own coverage. Here’s a breakdown.
Understand the Basics
Start with the first two letters of the alphabet. Part A covers your treatment in hospitals or skilled nursing facilities, while Part B is devoted to outpatient care, preventive services, ambulance transportation, and durable medical equipment. Together, they are often referred to as Original Medicare, and you become eligible for both at the same time, though you may not be enrolled automatically if you’re still employed at the age of 65.
Explore Advantage Plans
Moving on to the next letter, Part C refers to Advantage Plans, which are offered through private insurance companies. They offer the same coverage as Original Medicare, but often with additional perks such as dental, vision, and hearing care. In order to sign up, you must already be enrolled in Parts A and B.
Learn About Part D
Many Medicare Advantage Plans include coverage for prescription medication. This is sometimes referred to as Part D, and is also available as a standalone that you enroll in through a private insurer after signing up for Original Medicare. It saves seniors a bundle in the face of the ever-rising cost of medication.
As though Parts A, B, C, and D weren’t enough to take in, there’s more. You could also choose a Medigap Plan, which is similar to Medical Advantage in offering additional coverage to Original Medical, but through a private insurer. The difference is greater flexibility in the doctors and facilities you can visit for treatment.
Assess Your Own Health
Which type of Medicare is right for you depends on your own health. Are you at increased risk of heart disease or diabetes due to your weight? Are you likely to suffer from hereditary conditions such as Alzheimer’s or glaucoma? In order to answer the second question, you’ll need to delve into your family’s medical history.
Even with the above information, you’ll likely need some advice before settling on a specific Medicare plan. That’s available for free through State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, or SHIPs, which offer free counseling by phone as well as presentations and workshops. What’s more, there are many informative resources online designed specifically for those individuals who don’t spend a lot of time on the internet.
Sign Up Online
When the time comes to sign up for Original Medicare, you can do that online as well, and it takes less than 10 minutes. As for Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans, you may have to make a few phone calls. Bear in mind that there are enrollment periods for all of the above.
You may have the coverage you need, but you don’t want to use it unless absolutely necessary. Stay fit through a healthy diet and exercise, and Healthline recommends a routine that combines cardio with strength, balance and flexibility training. These improve your mobility while reducing risk of injury, which means fewer visits to the doctor and less need for medication.
You’ve got a long road of research ahead of you before you get the right coverage, so take a deep breath and get started. Remember to pace yourself and go step by step, and the day will soon come when Medicare starts working for you.
This article is by Sharon Wagner
Sharon Wagner created SeniorFriendly to provide helpful tips and advice to seniors on staying healthy and making the most out of life. She is the author of the upcoming books, The Ultimate Guide to Senior-Friendly Workouts, Fitness Gear, Healthy Recipes, and More.
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