For many seniors, navigating the world of Medicare can be confusing and overwhelming. From knowing whether you’re eligible to completing the enrollment process, having the right information is an important part of gaining coverage – and therefore peace of mind – during your retirement years. Whatever stage of retirement you’re in, here’s what you need to know about Medicare benefits for seniors and how to get the most out of your coverage.
Created in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson, Medicare was designed to provide aging adults with access to health care at a time when it was becoming increasingly difficult to get private health insurance. Today, Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities and people with End-Stage Renal Disease. If you are a typical American, as soon as you turn 65 years old, you become eligible to enroll for Medicare.
Medicare works a lot like what most private insurance companies offer. However, if you’re new to Medicare, it might be somewhat difficult to understand your options and the various Medicare plans.
There are four parts to Medicare, and each part covers different services.
Medicare Part A: Commonly known as hospital insurance, Medicare Part A covers the costs incurred throughout a hospital stay. It also covers routine nursing care and room and board at a skilled nursing center, plus inpatient rehabilitation and hospice care. However, it’s important to note that Medicare coverage for skilled nursing care will not start until after a three-day hospital stay at a Medicare-approved facility. Part A also covers home health care services, and durable medical equipment and supplies.
Medicare Part B: Medicare Part B is medical insurance and covers preventive care services, plus lab tests; x-rays; doctor-performed services; physical, occupational and speech therapies; outpatient care; home health care; and supplies. You’ll pay a monthly premium with Medicare Part B.
Medicare Part C and D: Medicare Part C is also known as a Medicare Advantage Plan, which allows private health insurance companies to provide Medicare benefits. Medicare Part D covers outpatient prescription drugs. A Medicare Advantage Plan will cover all of Part A and B, as well as Part D. All seniors can choose to get Medicare coverage through this type of plan; it’s not a separate benefit. Medicare Advantage Plans tend to go above and beyond traditional Medicare plans, providing coverage for dental, vision, hearing and wellness programs.
First, it’s important to know when you’ll be eligible to enroll in Medicare. Just because you’re about to turn 65 years old doesn’t mean you’ll automatically become enrolled in a Medicare plan. Check the Eligibility and Premium calculator on Medicare.gov for information about your enrollment date and the cost of your premium.
Once you’ve learned when you can enroll and know the costs associated with your coverage, choose the plan that will best meet your needs. This is where things can get a little confusing for some seniors. As soon as you’re eligible for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A right away, as there are no premiums for participation. Plus, you can utilize Part A even if you’re still employed. But, if you’re still working, enrolling in Part B is a bit more difficult. This is why knowing when you can enroll is so important. If you miss the deadline, you could get charged a late enrollment fee. You also need to decide if you’d prefer to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan instead, which as mentioned will cover both parts A and B, and usually Part D.
In the first year of enjoying your Medicare benefits, there are a few more tasks you need to complete to get the most out of your coverage. For example, register at MyMedicare.gov for access to your personal Medicare benefits and information at any time. You’ll want to fill out an authorization form, too. That allows others to access your records in case of an emergency. Finally, make an appointment for your free “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit. This one-time preventive physical exam includes services like a vision check, blood pressure, height and weight measurements, shots and screenings, a review of your mental health and any safety concerns on your mind.
Residents at Advent Christian Village enjoy a number of amenities, one of which is a personal Service Coordinator — someone to help them understand many of the confusing parts of growing older, including Medicare. If you would like more information on ACV’s membership services, call (386) 658-5400.
If you would like information on how Medicare can help you afford a short-term or long-term stay at Good Samaritan Center, Advent Christian Village’s skilled nursing facility, call (386) 658-5550. Contact us to schedule a personal, guided tour so you can see all that ACV has to offer.