Q : What is a Medicare Advantage plan?

Medicare Advantage plans — sometimes called Medicare Part C — are offered through private insurance carriers approved by Medicare. They provide Medicare Part A (hospitalization coverage) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance coverage). Advantage plans have, well, advantages. They usually have lower premiums, smaller copays, and lower deductibles than the original Medicare plans. You must be eligible for Medicare Part A and B to buy an Advanta…

Q : Can I buy some parts of Medicare and not others?

Yes, but if you want to participate in other parts of Medicare, you usually must first have Medicare Part A. Part A provides hospitalization insurance. Once you have Part A, you can add Part B, which is medical insurance. These two parts together are sometimes called original Medicare. Once you have enrolled in these two parts, you can choose to add additional coverage if you wish. For example, you can add a prescription drug plan, which woul…

Q : Do I pay a penalty if I don’t buy Medicare?

If you choose to opt out of Medicare you must still have some form of health care coverage or risk paying a penalty. That’s the case unless you are eligible for some sort of exemption. If you buy a Medicare plan you don’t have to buy any other type of insurance if you don’t want it — so long as you have Medicare, you’re covered. However, if you choose not to sign up for Medicare Part B (that’s the part that covers medica…

Q : What’s the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

The fundamental difference between the two programs is that Medicare is an insurance program that primarily serves people over the age of 65, regardless of income, while Medicaid is a health insurance program designed to serve low-income or disabled people of any age, as well as lower-income pregnant women. Medicare is run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal government agency. In addition to people over 65, some…

Q : I’m turning 65 a few months after the next open enrollment ends. What do I do?

You can sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday. To make sure you’re covered until your Medicare effective date, you can enroll in an insurance plan and then cancel it once your Medicare coverage starts. The initial enrollment period for Medicare begins three months before you first become eligible—usually when you are turning 65—and lasts for seven months. That is, the seven-month period starts three months before the…

Q : Why didn’t I qualify for Medicare?

To be eligible for Medicare you must be: A U.S. citizen (or otherwise legally living in the U.S.) for at least the past 5 years AND 65 years of age or older OR Younger than 65 with certain medical needs or disabilities such as end-stage renal disease (ESRD) If you don’t meet at least one of these criteria, you won’t qualify for Medicare. But you may still be able to find a great plan at an affordable price. Also, to receive Medicare Par…

Q : Where do I get Medicare?

If you already receive social security benefits, then you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare as soon as you’re eligible. You will then receive your Medicare card in the mail. You may opt out of your Part B coverage if you wish. If you initially opt out, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty once you do sign up for Part B coverage. If you don’t already receive social security benefits when you celebrate your 65th birthday, you can…

Q : Do I have to be a senior to be on Medicare?

There are different circumstances that may make you eligible for Medicare. You have turned age 65, and have been a citizen or permanent resident of the United States for more than five years. You are not 65 yet, but you have been receiving disability benefits from social security or retirement benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) for at least two years. You have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Yo…

Q : What’s the difference between Medicare and health insurance?

Medicare is a specific type of federal health insurance program for people over the age of 65 or younger people who meet certain disability requirements or have a particular condition. Health insurance is any type of insurance that helps pay for your medical, surgical and other healthcare expenses. You pay a monthly premium to an insurance carrier and in turn the insurance carrier pays for some or all of your medical costs depending on the plan…