If you have Medicare, you have several different options that can add to your coverage.  To make it simple, you can either get your benefits from original Medicare with Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, or you can get similar benefits through one of many Medicare Advantage plans. If you go with an Advantage plan, a private insurance company will handle your Medicare benefits for doctor services, hospital care and prescription drugs.
Those benefits are also known as Medicare Part A for hospitalization, Part B for doctor services and Part D for prescription coverage. These Medicare Advantage plans are known as Medicare Part C, and an Advantage plan will effectively replace your government Medicare coverage. If you don’t have an Advantage plan available where you live, or you don’t like certain rules associated with that option, you can sign up for Original Medicare.
With Original Medicare, you’ll probably get Part A benefits without having to pay a premium if you’ve worked and paid into the system. Medicare Part B for doctor services does have a monthly premium. Both Part A and B have separate deductibles that you’ll have to meet before coverage begins. That means, you’ll have to pay for some of your health care before Medicare will.  That’s where Medigap Insurance can help. It can reimburse you for the medical expenses you have to cover before Medicare coverage starts. Medigap plans can also pick up payment for health care that Medicare doesn’t cover after the deductibles have been met.
Neither Medicare, nor Medigap plans, pay for prescriptions, though. If you take medication, you’ll want to look into adding what’s known as a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan. These plans are available to anyone with Medicare Part A or Part B.  You are eligible to enroll in these options during the three months before you turn 65, the month of your birthday and for the next three months after your birth month. If you don’t enroll then, you may also sign up for one of the Medicare Advantage plans or Prescription Drug plans between October 15 and December 7 every year.  You can enroll in a Medigap plan anytime as long as your health is good. Medigap plan providers are not required to accept your application after your initial seven-month open enrollment period, with some exceptions. That limits your choices once your health begins to deteriorate. You can learn more about all of these options with our online resources and if you’d like some help sorting it all out, just give us a call.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.