Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older. The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home healthcare.
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
Part B covers certain doctor's services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventative services. Most people will pay a standard Part B premium which varies depending on income.
Once enrolled in Medicare, if you wish to change or purchase Medicare plans you must act during the open enrollment period.
When open enrollment is closed, there are special circumstances in which one may qualify to enroll outside of the enrollment period. Listed below are the qualifying events:
Prescription drug coverage offered by private carriers contract with Medicare. Because premiums vary greatly, you should carefully weigh your prescription costs against all variables of these plans. Selecting the wrong plan can wind up costing you thousands. Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer prescription coverage as well.
Please note that you should sign up for Part D (even if you do not have prescriptions) when you first turn 65, as waiting may result in a costly monthly penalty added to your premium.