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 (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD). The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:
Benefits of Medicare Part A include inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.
Benefits of Medicare Part B include certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventative services.
You must have Medicare Part A and Part B to buy a Medicare Supplement policy. You pay the private insurance company a monthly premium for your Medicare Supplement policy in addition to the monthly Part B premium that you pay to Medicare. A Medicare Supplement policy only covers one person. If you and your spouse both want Medicare Supplement coerage, you each will have to buy separate Medicare Supplement policies.
Part D adds prescription drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private-Fee-For-Service Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. These plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans may also offer prescription drug coverage that follows the same rules as Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.
The best time to buy a Medicare Supplement policy is during your open enrollement period. This period lasts for 6 months and begins on the first day of the month in which you are both 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this period an insurance company can’t use medical underwriting. This means the insurance company can’t do the following: