Medicare Part A covers hospital inpatient costs if you are admitted to a hospital by a doctor, in addition to hospice care, at-home care, or skilled nursing facility care. Medicare Part A also provides coverage for wheelchairs or walkers, blood transfusions, surgery, and lab tests.
Medicare Part B covers preventive healthcare, such as yearly doctor visits and tests, cancer screenings, some vaccinations, diabetes supplies, and ambulance and emergency room services.
Medicare Part C, which is also known as Medicare Advantage, is sold privately. It includes all of the coverage of Medicare Parts A and B, with additional coverage for dental care (including X-Rays), vision care, and hearing care, plus some fitness benefits (such as coverage for gym memberships). Medicare Part C can be tailored to suit individual healthcare needs for chronically ill enrollees.
Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs that are not covered by Part B, which covers medication that needs to be administered by a doctor (such as injections).
For coverage that extends to medical supplies and services that are not covered by Medicare Parts A, B, C or D, many individuals will choose to enroll in a Medigap plan. Medigap, which is sold by private insurance companies, is also lettered, and there are ten different types of plan available: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N. A Medigap plan supplements your original Medicare benefits, and covers things like co-payments, deductibles, and health care costs when you travel outside of the United States. Individuals who enroll in Medigap plans will have to pay a premium on top of the cost of their original Medicare benefits.
For Part A, your monthly premium will be up to $471 per month. If you have been paying Medicare taxes for fewer than 30 quarters, the premium is $471, and if you paid Medicare taxes for 30-39 quarters, the monthly premium is $259. For hospital inpatient services, your coinsurance cost for stays of 1-60 days is $0 for each benefit period; for days 61-90, the cost is $371 per day of each benefit period; and for days 91 and beyond, the coinsurance cost is $742 for each “lifetime reserve day” of each benefit period, up to 60 days
For Part B, the standard monthly premium is $148.50 but may be higher depending on your income, and the deductible and coinsurance cost is $203. After this deductible is met, you typically pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for medical services.
The Part C and Part D/Medicare Advantage cost varies depending on your plan and insurance provider.
You can enroll for original Medicare, which means Parts A and B, through medicare.gov. All other types of coverage, including supplement plans, Medigap and Medicare Advantage, can be purchased through private insurance companies.
The best Medicare Advantage plan provider for you will depend on your individual health and insurance needs. According to The Balance, the best Medicare Advantage providers by category for 2021 are:
Best Reputation: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan
Best Customer Ratings: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
Best for Extra Benefits: Aetna Medicare Advantage
Best for Large Network: Cigna-HealthSpring
Best for Promoting Health for Seniors: AARP/UnitedHealthcare
Best for Variety of Plans: Humana
It is not mandatory to enroll in Medicare when you turn 65. If you are still actively working for an employer who provides health insurance when you turn 65, you are entitled to a special enrollment period of eight months after your employment ends.
It is likely advisable to remain on your employer’s health insurance plan until your employment ends, at which time you may enroll in Medicare.