It happens to everyone as they approach 65. You’ve made the decision that it’s time to enroll in Medicare, and the mail starts swarming in. And as the piles of postcards and pamphlets rise, so does your anxiety.
But what if I told you that all of that clutter—on your counter and in your mind—could be boiled down to two choices…two pathways to get to your desired destination of a secure retirement health insurance plan? Sound like some sort of magic act? Well…prepare to be amazed.
Because all of that mail you’ve been receiving can and will be summarized into 2 basic options: traditional (or original Medicare) and Medicare Advantage.
Option 1: Traditional Medicare (Parts A and B)
Option one is offered directly through the federal government and government subcontractors. This means that Medicare is directly responsible for your health coverage. The money for your care comes right out of the government funds and into the hands of the doctors and hospitals you visit. The steps involved with taking the traditional Medicare route include:
1. Enrolling in Medicare Parts A and B, which cover inpatient and outpatient care respectively
2. Shopping for a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan that fits your needs and budget to fill in coverage gaps.
3. Signing up for a stand-alone prescription drug (or Part D) plan based on your medications and unique situation.
Option 2: Medicare Advantage (Part C)
Private insurance companies operate the other option. Medicare approves and funds them, of course, but the private insurance company is the one answering your phone calls, handling your claims, and directly paying your medical costs. The most important thing to note is that –although Medicare advantage (Part C) replaces original Medicare as your insurance provider— you still have to sign up for Parts A and B to be eligible for a Medicare advantage plan. The steps involved with taking the Medicare advantage route include:
1. Enrolling in Parts A and B
2. Choosing a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, with or without a Part D drug plan.
So, Not Exactly Easy…
I get it. You’re still a little overwhelmed. I mean, after all, which option do you choose? What are pros and cons of each? And how do you find a drug plan or Medicare Supplement plan that fits your needs and budget? As anything involved with the government, the closer you look, the more complicated and maddening it seems. And certainly, the transition to retirement is a huge project. But as all big and complicated problems are solved, I encourage you to tackle it a little bit at a time—one step, one decision, one simple blog post at time.
Turning 65 soon and not sure what to do? Click here to sign up for our free Medicare workshop. No high-pressure sales pitches here, just in-depth discussion about the ins and outs of Medicare!