The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP, begins October 15. If you’re on Medicare, AEP is the time each year when you can change your Medicare plan. Maybe you’re thinking of switching from a Medicare Supplement plan to a Medicare Advantage plan, or maybe you’re happy with the Medicare plan you have.
There are a lot of options when it comes to Medicare. That’s why it’s important to get the facts before you shop. Here are seven important things you need to know about Medicare.
- There are four parts to Medicare. Part A covers inpatient hospital or nursing facility care. Part B covers your doctor’s visits. (Together, Parts A and B are often called “Original Medicare.”) Part D covers your prescription drugs. Unofficially called Part C, Medicare Advantage combines Part A and Part B into one plan, often with Part D coverage and other benefits like vision, dental and hearing.
- Medicare isn’t free. No matter what type of plan you get, you will have to pay a premium for Medicare Part B. Most people have it taken from their Social Security check. However, you probably won’t have a Part A premium. If you or your spouse worked for at least 10 years and paid Medicare taxes, you won’t have a premium for your Part A coverage.
- Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t cover all your health expenses. That’s why many people also choose a Medicare Supplement plan or opt for a Medicare Advantage plan, which covers everything Original Medicare does plus extra benefits.
- Original Medicare doesn’t pay for prescription drugs. You’ll also need to get a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D coverage.
- You can customize your Medicare coverage. Medicare isn’t one size fits all. If you choose Original Medicare, you can add a Medicare Supplement plan to help cover out-of-pocket expenses and a Part D plan to cover your drugs. Or you can choose a Medicare Advantage plan that combines all your benefits into one easy-to-manage plan.
- If you don’t enroll in Medicare when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty. Make sure to enroll in Part B and Part D during your Initial Enrollment Period, which starts three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after you turn 65. Otherwise, you may have to pay a penalty.
- Get Extra Help paying for prescriptions. If you meet certain income requirements, you may be eligible for Extra Help, a government program that helps people pay for their Medicare Part D prescription costs.
Have more questions about Medicare? Visit medicareeducationmonth.com.