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The ABCs of Medicare Open Enrollment

A B C wooden building blocks

ABC building blocksNavigating the web of Medicare plans can be a daunting, often frustrating, but necessary task. If you are a caregiver helping your loved one enroll or change Medicare plans, check out these tips and a glossary of terms to get started.

  • Know when to enroll. The initial enrollment period is three months before your 65th birthday. Open enrollment thereafter (when you can change plans) begins in mid-October and ends in December.
  • Consider all the costs associated with each plan: How much are the deductibles, costs for services like hospital stays or doctor visits and other out-of-pocket expenses? There are Medicare programs to help subsidize the cost of your Part B premium, co-payments, medication and deductibles. Click this link for more information on Medicare subsidies.
  • Make sure the plan’s network of providers includes all your loved one’s doctors and specialists, including laboratories and hospitals. Don’t assume that all physicians within a clinic or hospital are covered just because the facility is in network.
  • Choose a Medicare Part D drug plan based on the drugs you are taking. Annual costs for prescriptions and coverage can vary depending on your medications so use the compare tool with a list of your medications and choice of drug stores.
  • Learn the vocabulary.

Medicare Part A When you apply to Medicare, you are automatically enrolled in the Part A plan. Part A is your hospital insurance plan. It covers nursing care and hospital stays, although not doctors’ fees. Part A also covers some home health services, skilled nursing care after a hospital stay and hospice care. — AARP Medicare Part B Medicare Part B (medical insurance) is part of Original Medicare and covers services and supplies that are medically necessary to treat your health condition. This can include outpatient care, preventive services, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment. — ehealthmedicare.com Medicare Part C Medicare Part C is not a separate benefit. Part C is the part of Medicare policy that allows private health insurance companies to provide Medicarebenefits. These Medicare private health plans, such as HMOs and PPOs, are known as Medicare Advantage plans. — medicateinteractive.org Medicare Part D Medicare Part D, also called the Medicare prescription drug benefit, is a United States federal-government program to subsidize the costs of prescription drugs and prescription drug insurance premiums for Medicarebeneficiaries. — Wikipedia Medigap Medigap is extra health insurance that you buy from a private company to pay health care costs not covered by Original Medicare, such as co-payments, deductibles, and health care if you travel outside the U.S. Medigap policies don’t cover long-term care, such as stays in a nursing facility, or dental care, vision care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and private-duty nursing. Most plans do not cover prescription drugs. — WebMD.com Medicaid Medicaid is a jointly funded, Federal-State health insurance program for low-income and needy people. It covers children, the aged, blind, and/or disabled and other people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments. — socialsecurity.gov

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