(NewsUSA) - Approaching age 65 can be an overwhelming time for many newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries. When can you begin to enroll? Which plans should you consider? What do you need to know?
Here's some information that can help.
You have a seven-month window called the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) to sign up for Medicare benefits, which begins three months prior to the month you'll turn 65. You are first eligible to receive Medicare coverage at the start of your birthday month. If your current benefits end once you turn 65, it's important to begin researching and comparing your Medicare options early to make sure there's no gap in your coverage.
There are several different types of Medicare plans available:
* Medicare Part A (hospital) and Medicare Part B (medical)
o Administered by the federal government, Original Medicare includes Parts A and B that provide hospital and medical coverage. For most people, Part A is free, so it's important to evaluate your options as soon as you become eligible for Medicare.
* Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)
o Offered by Medicare-approved private insurance companies and can be considered an "all in one" alternative to Original Medicare. These plans include all the coverage provided by Medicare Part A and B, and some may include additional benefits like prescription drug coverage, routine dental, vision and hearing care, and innovative offerings such fitness programs, healthy food debit cards for those who qualify and transportation benefits to help you get to doctor's appointments.
* Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plans)
o Original Medicare doesn't cover most prescription drugs, so you'll need to sign-up for a stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP) if enrolled in Original Medicare. These Part D plans are offered by Medicare-approved private insurers, like Humana.
* Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)
o Like Medicare Advantage, these plans are offered by private insurance companies and may help pay some of the healthcare costs that Medicare Parts A and B don't, like coinsurance, copayments or deductibles.
When selecting a prescription drug plan, you'll want to make sure the medications you're currently taking are covered and compare their costs across different plans. Some plans also take steps to help save you money, like Humana for example. They suggest generic or lower-cost equivalent drugs to their members when they're available. And when it comes to costs, look beyond the monthly premium and consider the additional out-of-pocket costs. Always evaluate the full cost of the plan, including co-payments or co-insurance, and the deductible as well as which pharmacies are in network.
While the many plan options can seem overwhelming, there are resources available to help you choose Medicare coverage that best suits your needs. The Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov allows you to easily compare the benefits and costs of different plans. Other resources on sites such as Humana.com include helpful information to consider in shopping for plans like Physician and Pharmacy finders to help you see if your providers are in a plan's network. While planning ahead is helpful, rest assured that, as your needs change, you can change your plan during the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period, which goes from October 15th to December 7th each year.
Medicare-eligible individuals can visit www.Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, you can learn about Humana Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans by going to www.Humana.com/Medicare, www.Humana.com/pdp or calling 1-800-213-5286 (TTY: 711) to speak with a licensed sales agent from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.
Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, PDP, and PFFS organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal.