I’ve got my Original Medicare card in the mail and now have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. I’ve been searching for hours online to try and make sense of enrolling in either a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement plan. There are so many options to choose from. Is there a good place to start? Help!
You are correct; there are a lot of Medicare insurance options out there! When you buy Medicare insurance after getting Original Medicare Part A and Part B, you have hundreds and perhaps thousands of Medicare insurance coverage choices to choose from to help close the gaps in Original Medicare.
These choices can be overwhelming for most people. Don’t worry—it’s not just you. Everyone is overwhelmed when faced with too many choices. This is what’s known as “choice overload,” and scientists have studied the phenomenon for a long time.
Essentially, the research shows that people think they want a lot of choices. But, in reality, they get overwhelmed and confused when presented with too many. According to the research, when people are offered only six choices rather than twenty-four or thirty, they’re less confused, get less frustrated, and are more satisfied with their choice.
However, you can distill Medicare choices into three basic options. Let me explain.
The Three Basic Medicare Coverage Options
Option 1 = “Bare-with-Medicare” This simply means using your Original Medicare benefits and card, and buying a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) to cover your retail and mail-order prescriptions.
Medicare Part A and B are part of the “Original Medicare” package. In general, Medicare Part A covers inpatient care in a hospital, skilled nursing facility care, nursing home care (not custodial or long-term care), hospice care and home health care. Medicare Part B covers doctors’ office visits, services and tests, outpatient care, some home health services, durable medical equipment, and some preventive services.
Then, all you have to do from there is add a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), which you must buy from a Medicare insurance company.
Option 2 = Original Medicare Part A and Part B +Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan + Medicare Supplement In this scenario, you’d buy your PDP from a Medicare insurance company and then buy a separate Medigap or Medicare Supplement insurance policy from another Medicare insurance company to cover the gaps in Original Medicare Part A and Part B.
Option 3 = is Medicare Part C, which is commonly referred to as a Medicare Advantage plan (MAPD). This type of plan combines Original Medicare Part A, Part B and Part D together in one package. You can also purchase this from a Medicare insurance company.
Which Medicare Path is Right For You?
Choosing which of the three paths is right for you can be confusing. Once you choose a path, it gets even more complicated because the number and combination of Medicare insurance policies you can buy in either option can be absolutely dizzying.
For instance, choosing the Medicare Advantage path, depending on where you live, could lead you to have to choose from more than fifty options, each with its own nuances. Each plan has different benefits, limitations on what doctors you can see, what prescription drugs are covered, and their prices. To top it off, most plans change prices, benefits, prescription drug formularies, and doctor coverage every single year, so it’s wise to shop your Medicare insurance coverage every fall during the Annual Election Period (AEP) which runs from October 15 through December 7.
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Author Bio Matt Feret is the author of the Prepare for Social Security -The Insider’s Guide and the Prepare for Medicare – The Insider’s Guide book series and launched PrepareforSocialSecurity.com to help people get objective answers to questions about Social Security and Medicare. Matt is also the host of The Matt Feret Show. He has held leadership roles at numerous Fortune 500 Medicare health insurers in sales, marketing, operations, product development, and strategy for over two decades.