There are four different parts to Medicare: your Medicare Part A plan is your hospital plan that covers stays at a skilled nursing facility. Your Medicare Part B plan covers your preventative care and doctor’s visits, as well as durable medical equipment such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. Medicare Part D is your prescription drug plan. Medicare Part C plans are known as Medicare Advantage Plans or Medigap plans. Your Medicare Parts A and B cover up to certain limits whenever you stay in a hospital or visit your doctor, respectively. This means that Part C plans can help you pay for services not covered in your Medicare Part A and Part B.
What are Medicare Advantage Plans?
As noted above, Medicare Advantage plans are plans that offer health coverage in addition to what original Medicare provides, covering any “gaps” in your healthcare needs that Part A and B do not cover. They also provide additional coverage to your prescription drug plan. These Medigap plans are not available everywhere, so if you are in West Palm Beach then you will need to call the South Florida Medicare Specialist who will guide you through the different options that are available to you in your ZIP Code.
Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan C, also known as Medigap, is a health insurance plan that covers all of the gaps in your Part A and Part B that you would be required to pay. there are numerous benefits to getting a Medicare supplement plan C, also known as a Medicare Advantage plan, covering:
- Your Medicare Part A deductible
- Your Medicare Part B deductible
- Your Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs
- Your Medicare Part B copayments
Why should I choose a Medicare Advantage Plan?
There are many reasons why someone might choose a Medicare Advantage plan: Maybe your preferred specialist that you’ve been seeing for chronic conditions for several years is not in your new Medicare plan, or maybe you just have more medical needs now that you are getting older. You know that your healthcare expenses are going to be higher, and you want to get adequate coverage so you are not left with exorbitant fees that you cannot pay on a fixed retirement income. Medigap plans help you to save money even when you know you most likely will be requiring more services so you can maintain your health.
How can I switch my Medicare Advantage Plan?
It’s easy. All you have to do is sign up for the plan you want during one of the enrollment periods. Learn more about enrollment periods below.
When are the Medicare enrollment periods?
There are four opportunities for people to sign up for Medicare:
- Initial Medicare Enrollment Period
- Medicare Open Enrollment Period
- General Medicare Enrollment Period
- Special Enrollment Period
The Initial Medicare Enrollment Period is the six-month timeframe that encompasses the three months before and after you turn 65 years of age. If you already have Social Security benefits then you will automatically be enrolled, and your coverage will begin in the first month after you sign up for Medicare. The Medicare Open Enrollment Period, by contrast, is between October 15 and December 7 of every year and this is when you can drop your Medicare plan or change it if you were offered other insurance. The General Medicare Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31, and if you enroll during this time your coverage will begin on July 1.
There are some special circumstances in which you can change your Medicare plan outside of the Initial Medicare Enrollment Period and the General Medicare Enrollment Period. A Special Enrollment Period can be initiated if any of the following happen:
- You move to a new address
- You lose your current coverage
- Your employer or union offers you coverage that you accept
- The plan you currently have has changed its contract with Medicare
- An improvement of a qualifying condition which, now that you are relieved of it, means that you no longer qualify as a special need
I have coverage through my employment or union, so can I sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan?
In many cases, if you join a Medicare Advantage Plan then you will lose the coverage you have through your employer or union. It’s best to speak with one of our South Florida Medicare Specialists because if you drop your employer or union coverage then you may not be able to get it back, and it’s important that you are sure of your decision before doing anything irreversible. We can walk you through what you’re eligible for, and what to expect once the changes are made to your coverage.
Considerations When Changing Your Plan
At South Florida Medicare Specialists, we recommend that you purchase your Medicaid policy during the six-month open enrollment period before and after your 65th birthday. The reason for this is because generally, you will see better price options and more choices among policies. Another reason why it is important to purchase at this time is that even if you have health problems you will still be able to buy your Medicare policy, but it’s not as likely that you will be able to purchase one later. You do not want to find out that you are unable to buy a Medigap policy down the road, or that you would have to pay more for it.
How South Florida Medicare Specialists Helps You
If you have had your Medigap policy for a while and are looking to change it during one of the upcoming enrollment periods, then it is important to discuss with our South Florida Medicare Specialists why exactly you want to switch your plan. What changes to your health have necessitated a change in coverage? Are you looking to save more money? Do you have friends or does your spouse have a plan that looks more attractive to you, and has this made you want to find out how to get a plan you like more? These are all great reasons to call our office and talk with us about what you are looking for and what you need.