Medicare has 4 parts, A, B, C & D. Once you turn 65 or qualify due to certain disabilities, you can enroll in Medicare. However, there are many what ifs to consider. So, let’s start with what each part does:
Part A - Part A covers Hospitalization in a semiprivate room and board, general nursing and miscellaneous services and supplies, limited skilled nursing facility care, blood and hospice. When you turn 65 you should enroll in this program even if you continue to work. There is no cost as long as you qualify for coverage.
Part B - Part B covers medical expenses which includes treatment in and out of the hospital as well as outpatient hospital treatment such as physicians’ services, inpatient and outpatient medical and surgical services and supplies, physical and speech therapy, diagnostic tests, durable medical equipment, blood, and home health care. You should enroll in Part B on the date that you become eligible to avoid a late enrollment penalty. If you continue to work after age 65, work for an employer who employs more than 20 employees and they have a health insurance plan you can defer enrollment in part B until you lose that coverage. There is a premium for this coverage.
Part C - Part C, also known as a Medicare Advantage plan, offers medical care as well as many other benefits such as dental, vision and eyeglasses just to name a few. This is what makes them so attractive to seniors along with a generally much lower premium or no premium at all than a Medicare Supplement. They do require you to share in your medical costs and have a maximum out of pocket that could be in the thousands of dollars each year. Some plans cover prescription drugs, some do not. Some are like a HMO in that you must use the insurance companies providers to get coverage, some are more of a PPO style where you can go out of the network for a higher fee. You must still enroll in Part B listed above and pay that premium.
Part D - Part D is the prescription drug coverage provided by Medicare. There are different coverage levels and co-pays for drugs and not all drugs are covered. There is a coverage gap and catastrophic coverage after the gap.
When you turn 65 you should sign up for a Part D plan even if you are not currently taking any drugs to avoid a penalty. Some but not all Medicare Advantage plans include this coverage (See Part C above).
A great source for unbiased information on the plans listed above is:
Other websites to help you in your research:
Medicare Disclaimer: We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.