1. There are two ways to get Medicare, turn age 65 or become disabled.
Your biggest decision is choosing between Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and the Medicare Advantage plan. If you choose Original Medicare, decide whether to buy a stand alone prescription drug plan or Medigap (Medicare supplemental insurance) policy. If you choose Medicare Advantage, pick a specific plan from a specific company.
2. There is drug coverage available.
Medicare now includes prescription drug coverage also known as Part D.
This coverage is optional. You can get prescription drug coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan. Some of them include drug coverage. Or you can enroll in a standalone Part D prescription drug plan to go with your Original Medicare coverage.
This is important to know: If you don’t sign up for Part D prescription drug coverage as soon as you become eligible for Medicare, you may pay a penalty on your premium unless you qualify for an exception.
3. Even for covered expenses, you’ll pay a share of the cost.
Medicare helps you get the health care you need when you’re sick, but you’ll still be expected to pay a share of the cost. You contribute to Medicare by paying taxes while you work. When you start to use your Medicare benefits, you’ll pay a share of the costs of the care you receive.
4. Your share may be larger than you expect.
If you choose Medicare Parts A and B, you’ll find that there are some expenses Medicare doesn’t cover. If you are seriously ill, these gaps create big bills. Some people who choose Medicare Parts A and B also buy a Medicare supplement insurance policy. Another alternative is to choose a Medicare Advantage plan that can also help you avoid these gaps.
5. Where you live makes a difference.
Medicare Parts A and B are the same across the United States. But other parts of Medicare (Parts C and D) are offered by private companies and may be available in specific counties, states, or regions, and not in others. There are Part C or Part D plans that offer nationwide coverage.