Medicare Options

Medicare’s many options can be quite confusing. What each is…

Medicare Part A helps cover the cost of inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and hospices, plus certain home health-care costs. For most people, there is no premium because they paid Medicare taxes while working.

Medicare Part B helps cover the cost of doctors’ services, outpatient care and certain other medical services. There usually is a premium for Part B that is deducted from your monthly Social Security check.

Traditional Medicare, sometimes called original Medicare, consists of Medicare Part A and Part B.

Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription medications. It is offered by private Medicare-approved companies. Part D plans vary somewhat in premiums, co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles.

Medicare Advantage plans, also called Medicare Part C, are an alternative to traditional Medicare. Unlike traditional Medicare, which lets participants choose virtually any health-care provider, many Advantage plans operate like HMOs or PPOs, using financial incentives to steer members toward in-network providers. Advantage plans often charge premiums (beyond those for Medicare Part B).

Medigap policies, also called Medicare Supplement Insurance, help pay health-care costs not covered by traditional Medicare, including co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles. While Advantage plans replace traditional Medicare, Medigap policies just supplement it. Costs and coverage details depend on the Medigap plan selected.

Source:  Frederic Riccardi, MSW, director of programs and outreach with the Medicare Rights Center, a nonprofit consumer rights organization with offices in New York City and Washington, DC.

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