We understand that there’s a lot to learn about Medicare if you are new to it. We can help you understand the basics and feel confident in the choices you make.
Watch this short introduction to Medicare, and you’ll get the big picture as well as important details.
Medicare Parts A and B are referred to as Original Medicare, the federal programs that most people mean when they say “Medicare.”
Medicare Part A covers inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and hospice care, as well as home healthcare. Most people don’t need to pay a Part A monthly premium because they contributed into Social Security
Medicare Part B covers doctors’ services and other outpatient care. You pay a monthly premium for Part B based on income. The purchase of Part B is optional, but you may face a late enrollment penalty if you do not sign up when you are first eligible for Medicare.
It’s important to know what Medicare Parts A and B do not cover:
Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, allows you to obtain Medicare coverage through a private insurer. For example, BCBSRI offers BlueCHiP for Medicare plans. Medicare Advantage plans may:
Medicare Part D is optional coverage offered by private insurers for prescription drugs not covered under Medicare Parts A or B. The purchase of Part D is optional, but you may face a late enrollment penalty if you do not sign up when you are first eligible for Medicare.There are two ways to get Part D coverage:
Medicare Supplement plans offer coverage that fills the gaps in Original Medicare (Parts A and B). These Medigap plans, like Medicare Advantage plans, are offered through private insurers. BCBSRI offers Plan 65 plans. Depending on the policy, Medigap plans cover part or all of the deductibles, copays, and coinsurance under Original Medicare. They offer the flexibility of being able to go to any Medicare participating provider. With Medigap plans, you:
There is no cost for Medicare Part A, which is hospital coverage, if you contributed to Social Security for at least 40 quarters. If you haven’t, you can purchase Medicare Part A. You do have to pay a premium for Medicare Part B, which is medical coverage. Your premium cost depends on your income.
It depends on your situation.
Generally, when you turn 65, as long as you are receiving health insurance that includes credible drug coverage through you or your spouse’s employer, you do not have to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B until you stop working. You then have a certain amount of time, a special enrollment period, when you can enroll. But it’s important to check with your employer. They may require you to sign up for Medicare even if you are still employed.
If you are not working when you turn 65, or when you retire at any age and lose your health insurance through your employer, you need to enroll, especially in Part B. If you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you could face a penalty.
Start thinking about Medicare before you are eligible. You will want to give yourself time to understand your options, ask questions, and feel confident about your choices before the deadline.
This timeline can help you stay on track.
Contact Medicare for more information, including specific benefits and costs. (Or call BCBSRI. We’re happy to help.)
Start comparing plans and narrow your choices.
Congratulations! Now you can apply for Medicare benefits through the Social Security Administration.
Happy birthday! Now that you have enrolled, it’s time to make sure everything is in place:
Last updated: 01/01/2017
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is an HMO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island depends on contract renewal.