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Are you shopping for Medicare? Here's what you need to know

Finance & Planning | Sep 10, 2015

Those shopping for Medicare likely don't know the best practices to help them find the lowest rate. Medicare is something they usually shop for once, so it's not likely they are good at. And while it might seem like a daunting process, especially since there is so much to consider, shoppers can follow some best practices when looking for a policy, which will help them better understand Medicare and likely find them a lower rate.

Medicare coverage options allow people to buy coverage from private insurance companies whose plans are regulated through Medicare. They do not include a health maintenance organization (HMO) or preferred provider organization (PPO).

General info buyers need to know
Shopping for a Medicare insurance policy is easy with all the facts. And while many older Americans are new to this process, it's important to understand the different facets of each policy:

  • Medicare Part A (hospital coverage): This part of Medicare pays for a number of services associated with hospitals, including in-patient care, skilled nursing care after hospital visits, and care at home or a hospice
  • Medicare Part B (medical coverage): Part B pays for expenses associated with medical care, home health treatment, outpatient hospital care, durable medical equipment and supplies, services associated with a clinical laboratory, and a number of heath services, including shots, exams and health screenings.
  • Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage): This part of Medicare combines coverage beyond part A and B, often including coverage for prescription drugs.
  • Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage): Those looking to get coverage for their medication should choose this plan. It can be combined with either part A and or B, or it can also be bought on its own.

What's not covered with Medicare
Those turning 65 will likely purchase one of the aforementioned parts, or a combination of different parts, to prepare for care later in life. However, there are a number of services Medicare doesn't cover that are important to be aware of when shopping around. For instance, a Medicare policy won't cover long term care service like nursing home placement. However, it will cover care that is medically necessary inside a nursing home.

Here's a number of other services Medicare won't cover:

  • Private duty care from a nurse
  • Most dental and denture care
  • Eye care, glasses and hearing aids
  • Routine foot care
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Health care provided outside the United States

Best practices when enrolling
The most popular time for someone to enroll in Medicare is when they are turning or just turned 65. This is what is known as the open enrollment period, allowing someone to get a Medicare Supplement insurance policy no matter what. Even if someone has pre-existing health conditions, they will still qualify for coverage.

Finding the best rate
Medicare coverage options are a way for older Americans to get care at a low price. However, that's not to say there aren't methods of getting lower rates.

SelectQuote allows consumers to easily compare the prices of multiple providers. Essentially, all the work of comparing one insurance company with another is done for consumers, streamlining the process and likely getting them the lowest rate. While the coverage for Medicare plans is standardized, premiums vary, so shoppers will want to be thorough when assessing their options.