Once you reach the age of 65, you have the option of choosing Medicare coverage for your health insurance needs. Before enrolling in a plan, you should know your options and what each plan covers.

There are six different types of Medicare coverage:

  • Part A: This coverage hospital stays, home health services and hospice care
  • Part B: Coverage for doctors’ services, outpatient care and medical equipment
  • Part C: This type of coverage is also known as Medicare Advantage and is a private plan providing Parts A, B and often D. It’s an alternative to traditional Medicare.
  • Part D: Individuals who choose Part D are opting for prescription drug coverage. It’s offered as a “stand-along” plan.
  • Traditional Medicare: When people choose traditional Medicare they’re getting Parts A and B coverage.
  • Medigap: Not all services are covered by Medicare so Medigap is offered a private and optional supplemental insurance to lower your out-of-pocket expenses.

Medicare coverage
When choosing your Medicare health coverage, there are two mains in which you can obtain it – Original Medicare (Parts A and B) or Medicare Advantage (Part C).

There are three steps to follow when choosing your Medicare plan:

  • Decide if you want Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage
  • Then you’ll need to decide if you want prescription drug coverage. Whether or not your choose a Part D plan will depend on your medication needs. Individuals who take several prescription drugs may want to opt for Part D coverage.
  • Those who opt for Original Medicare may want to decide if they want supplemental coverage. Medigap is only available to those with Original Medicare and helps fill in the gaps that may result of your Medicare plan. Theses costs vary by policy and company.

Once you sign up for Medicare coverage you don’t need to continue to sign up year after year. However, if you decide at any time that you want to make changes to your existing coverage then you’ll need to do so during the annual open enrollment period.

Medicare open enrollment is also important for those who are turning 65 that year. You’ll want to choose a plan so you aren’t stuck with any late fees should you miss the period in which you’re permitted to sign up for Medicare.

You should also know that any preexisting medical conditions you have will not exempt your from being eligible for Medicare. Beneficiaries with preexisting conditions are not subject to increased premiums and rates. The same goes for those with a history of smoking, alcohol use and obesity.