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Understanding Medicare plans before you need one

Medicare | Sep 16, 2015

Much like you wouldn't wait until you hit retirement age to consider savings plans, you shouldn't wait to explore the Medicare coverage plans until you require health care in retirement.

One misconception that some Americans have is that they will retire, enroll in Medicare and be free of all health care costs. However, coverage provided through this government program does not cover all costs for care under Parts A and B. Part A covers hospital care, nursing home care, skilled-nursing facility care, hospice and home health services expenses. Part B covers costs related to preventative services and medically necessary services and supplies. However, in many cases, 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount has to be paid out of pocket.

Seniors may experience some of these costs as they continue to age, and it is important that Americans understand their options to get the most comprehensive Medicare coverage options. One option is a Medicare Advantage plan, or Part C coverage. These plans are offered by private insurers and provide the benefits of Parts A and B coverage as well as prescription drug coverage and HMO-type advantages, including hospital and doctor networks.

Another means of ensuring more comprehensive coverage is to consider a Medicare supplement plan - sometimes referred to a Medigap plan. Like Part C coverage, Medigap policies are offered by private insurers. However, they can be used at any hospital that accepts Medicare.

Research to find the best rates
Keep in mind that your health can change at any time, especially once you pass retirement age. Having comprehensive Medicare insurance can help you avoid large health care costs. While reviewing plans, be sure to understand what they cover financially as well as what supplement plans can give you the all-around care you'll need.