Every year, there is a time period where consumers who are 65 and older can change, sign up, drop or switch Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans. This period of time is known as open enrollment.
This year the time period will be held from October 15 to December 7 – leaving seniors a couple of months to compare and explore their Medicare insurance options.
Here is a glossary to help you prepare for this year’s open enrollment period:
A person eligible to enroll in the Medicare program
The list of all covered prescription drugs
Medicare Advantage: Also known as Medicare Part C
Part C was designed to give Medicare beneficiaries the option of buying coverage through a private health insurance company. These plans provide coverage for all the same services as Part A and B, but are administered by private carriers. These plans often include additional benefits.
Every year, an increasing number of people choose Part C. Today, one in four Americans purchase a Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Supplement: Also known as Medigap
Extra insurance coverage purchased through private insurance companies to cover some of the health care costs regular Medicare does not.
Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A covers in-patient hospital care and skilled nursing care. Patients get full coverage if they stay in a health facility for at least 3 days.
Part A covers care for one health condition up to 100 days. Beneficiaries won’t need to pay anything for the first 20 days, but must pay a copayment for the next 80 days. But Part A does not provide coverage for long-term care or unskilled custodial care.
There are also no monthly premiums for Part A.
Medicare Part B
Part B provides coverage for most outpatient medical care, including:
- Physician services
- Lab and diagnostic tests
- Outpatient hospital care
Part B also covers the cost of medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, prosthetics, and in-home oxygen.
Medicare Part B is optional for those working full time, but is mandatory for anyone not actively employed. A premium is paid each month for Part B coverage.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Prescription Drug plans — informally known as Medicare Part D, provide coverage for prescription medications. Before Part D was created, Medicare did not provide any coverage for medications.
Part D is an optional Medicare benefit — and it’s administered by private insurers. The federal government sets certain requirements about the plans, but it’s up to the private companies offering the plans to decide which drugs to cover.
To enroll in Medicare Part D, beneficiaries can choose a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage (MA-PD).
The payment that must be made monthly to keep a policy in effect.