How to prepare for Medicare

Joining Medicare is an exciting milestone to reach in one’s life. It’s something you’ve been paying into ever since you started working and now it’s time to reap the rewards of turning 65. Like most people, you’re probably wondering what you need to do in order to get your Medicare card. Here’s what’s going to happen:  Around three months prior to your 65th birthday you will receive a package in the mail from the Social Security office describing your Medicare coverage. This package includes a handy little book that explains some of the benefits and guidelines about Medicare.

When you turn 65, you are automatically enrolled in both Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) and Medicare Part B (medical coverage).  This is also known as Original Medicare.

However, it is important to understand what Original Medicare does and does not cover, as well as your options for how your Medicare benefits will be delivered, and about any additional coverage you may need.

You have three choices:

1. You can rely on Original Medicare alone to provide your coverage.

Keep in mind, that Original Medicare alone only covers 80% of your medical expenses and does not provide Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. This coverage is additional and must be purchased by a 3rd party provider.

2. You can choose a Medicare Advantage Plan that provides all the benefits of Original Medicare and more.

Medicare Advantage plans are a great way to get extra Medicare benefits and are typically more cost-effective than having Medicare Parts A and B alone. It combines Part A, Part B and many times Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans are managed by private insurance companies and must be approved by Medicare.

3. You can purchase a Medicare supplement plan to help fill in the gaps not covered by Original Medicare.

With a Medicare supplement plan, subscribers pay a fixed monthly premium regardless of what services are actually used.