Turning 65? Get the 411 on Medicare
You’ve reached the Golden Years. You’re nearing retirement. Or maybe a parent or loved one is about to turn 65 and you want to make sure they have all their important matters handled before taking off for a well-deserved vacation.
In any case, it’s time to get serious about Medicare. Medicare is a federal health insurance plan available to people age 65 and older, as well as people with certain disabilities and End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). With the Annual Enrollment Period around the corner, you’ll want to get all the details about what Medicare has to offer.
Medicare differs from the typical HMO or PPO plans that you might be used to, so it’s important to understand all aspects of the program. Blue Shield offers several Medicare plan options, so you can make a choice that best fits your or your loved one’s health needs.
If you’re unclear which plan is right for you, Blue Shield offers a free webinar to get your questions answered. In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of Medicare basics.
Parts vs. Plans
Medicare plans are broken up into parts.
Medicare is a government-regulated health plan that can coordinate with healthcare companies like Blue Shield of California. Medicare plans are broken down into parts: Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D.
- Part A covers hospital-related costs, such as overnight stays, long-term facility care, hospice care, and some home health care. Combined with Part B, it’s known as “Original Medicare.”
- Part B covers medical-related costs, such as doctors’ visits, outpatient services, medical supplies, and preventive screenings. Combined with Part A, it’s known as “Original Medicare.”
- Part C is an “all-in-one” health plan that bundles coverage from Parts A, B, and sometimes D. Also known as “Medicare Advantage.”
- Part D is a prescription drug coverage plan, typically added on to Original Medicare, but can be added to other Medicare plan configurations as well.
Medicare Part C, aka Medicare Advantage , tends to mirror traditional HMO and PPO plans, but has additional coverage options. While this can sometimes provide more benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs compared to Original Medicare, there may be limited network options.
Medicare Supplement is broken up into plans.
For those who choose Original Medicare, you can also buy a Medicare Supplement (aka Medigap) plan to supplement coverage gaps. There are a variety of Medicare Supplement plans from which to choose, and these plans are also broken down by letter: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. Each plan covers various benefits so you can purchase the one best fitting your needs. Some of the benefits available on Blue Shield plans include virtual consults with Teladoc, an over-the-counter pharmacy allowance, gym memberships, and hearing and vision coverage. Note that only people eligible for Medicare before January 1, 2020 can purchase Plan C or Plan F.
While this might seem the more piecemeal option, it’s the one usually offering more choice and customization. There are quite a few considerations if you choose to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan. Knowing all the available options will help you make the best choice.
Normally at this time of year, we would be hosting many in-person events to answer all your pressing Medicare questions. Now in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency, many of these informational seminars are moving online to maintain physical distancing.
Fortunately, video conferencing systems like Zoom and Webex, as well as other online tools make getting the 411 on Medicare easier than ever. You’ll just need a computer with a web camera and sometimes you’ll need to download some software ahead of time. If you don’t have a computer, you can also install an app on your smartphone, or simply call into the seminar using a regular phone number and a numerical password.
If online meeting technology is new to you, consider asking a friend or family member for help. You can test-run the technology before the webinar. If you don’t have access to a computer, ask a friend or family member who does have a computer to attend on your behalf—or with you—and take notes.
What happens in a webinar? Medicare experts will take you through the ins and outs of Medicare. These sessions provide you with the opportunity to dive deeper in Medicare’s parts and Medicare Supplement plans, so you can find the best plan for you or your loved one. Topics usually include Medicare eligibility, the differences between plans, the enrollment process, opportunities for saving money, and much more.
Attend a webinar
So, you want to attend a free Medicare webinar. Smart choice! In order to register, you’ll need to provide an email address, as well as basic information to help determine your eligibility:
- Date of birth
- ZIP code
Blue Shield’s Medicare webinars have a variety of times available, so you can select the one that best fits your schedule.