Medicare 101

Choosing health insurance is no longer a one-time decision for most Medicare beneficiaries. Each year, insurance companies can make changes to Medicare plans that can impact how much you pay out-of-pocket—like the monthly premiums, deductibles, drug costs, drug formularies, and provider or pharmacy networks. Given these yearly changes, it is a good idea to re-evaluate your current Medicare plan each year to make sure it still meets your needs and offers access to the doctors and services you want and need.

Medicare’s Annual Election Period runs October 15 – December 7. During this time, pause and consider changes in your life and/or lifestyle that may require additional resources, especially if:

  • You want to minimize the amount of money you spend on visits to the doctor and/or specialist
  • Your medications are becoming more expensive
  • You want to stay active and join a gym
  • You’ve been diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, COPD or congestive heart failure
  • You could benefit from additional support services, such as transportation assistance
  • You need coverage for dental, vision and hearing needs

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program offered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Who is eligible for Medicare?

  • People who are 65 or older
  • People with certain disabilities
  • People with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

Those eligible for Medicare have several different options

  • Original Medicare Plan (Part A and Part B)
  • Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C)
  • Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D)

What is Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage plan is a single plan that combines Medicare Part A and Part B coverage and other health services such as prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans also offer additional benefits like dental and vision coverage— critical aspects of maintaining one’s overall health. These plans can also include transportation services to helps seniors run errands and get to medical visits. Furthermore, these plans may cover grocery or home meal delivery after hospitalization.

What’s the difference between original Medicare and Medicare advantage?

BenefitsPart A + Part B
Traditional Medicare

Medicare Advantage
Hospital Coverage
Doctors Visits
Medical Equipment & Supplies
Outpatient Services
Prescription Management
Dental Coverage
Vision Benefits
Transportation
Wellness Benefits (e.g., gym memberships, discounts)
Part A + Part B
Traditional Medicare
Hospital Coverage
Doctors Visits
Medical Equipment & Supplies
Outpatient Services
Prescription Management
Dental Coverage
Vision Benefits
Transportation
Wellness Benefits (e.g., gym memberships, discounts)

Medicare Advantage
Hospital Coverage
Doctors Visits
Medical Equipment & Supplies
Outpatient Services
Prescription Management
Dental Coverage
Vision Benefits
Transportation
Wellness Benefits (e.g., gym memberships, discounts)