"Dear Medicare Matthew,
In six months, I turn 65. My friends tell me all about their Medicare Supplements or Medicare Advantage, yet I feel like I don't even know the basics. What is Medicare?
Glad to help, Soon-To-Be!
Welcome to the upcoming land of Medicare. Everything will be fine. However, I understand your concern. Many people have fear of the unknown and Medicare can be confusing. Lets get some foundations so you can start to talk more confidently!
""Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease."" This is the correct answer which you can locate at medicare.gov. Need more details?
Typically, your Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) will begin on the first day of the month in which you turn 65. Say your birthday is May 25, your Medicare will begin May 1. The only difference to this rule is if you are born on the 1st of the month. Then your effective date is the 1st of the prior month.
Part A also is usually premium-free, since you've paid into the Medicare system during your working career.
Speaking of hospital coverage, Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.
Medicare Part B (medical coverage) is the second half of what is considered Original Medicare. If you are currently receiving Social Security benefits, you'll automatically be enrolled. If not, you will want to actively enroll with Social Security. If you are still working and have group insurance available, you may want to delay enrollment. The base monthly premium (in 2017) is $134/month.
Speaking of medical coverage, Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.
You could just enroll into Medicare Part A & Part B, and have no additional coverage. As with any health insurance, it is important to be aware of your out-of-pocket spending limit. This refers to the dollar amount you would be responsible for in a worst-case-scenario year. The reason I do not suggest you, or anyone, only have Original Medicare, is the lack of any out-of-pocket limitations. There are deductibles, coinsurance, and copays which go on until January 1(when they start over).
This is where additional coverage, like Medicare Supplements, Medicare Advantage or Part D comes in.
Hopefully this answers your questions, or at least gets you started in your quest for information. "