Woman explaining to senior how medicare benefits you

If youre nearing your 65th birthday, eyeing retirement, or just planning for the future, its a good idea to have a grasp on what Medicare is and how it works. For most people, its a great option for covering medical costs into your later years. Here are some of the ways that Medicare benefits you. 

It Works Like Private Insurance

One of the benefits of Medicare is that it operates very similarly to private insurance, requiring copays and asking you, the insured, to pay a portion of the medical costs. In that regard, youre using the same terms as you did if you had employer-sponsored insurance. There are two main parts to Medicare, Part A and Part B. Part A covers inpatient hospital care, hospice care, care provided at skilled nursing facilities and home health services. Part B covers care provided by doctors, practitioners, home health care and some outpatient care. It also covers medical equipment. 

Youre eligible for Medicare at age 65

For the most part, its fairly easy to determine who is eligible for Medicare because it is generally available to everyone age 65 and older. Additionally, Medicare also covers younger people with disabilities and those with End-Stage Renal Disease. If you are receiving retirement benefits from Social Security, you are automatically enrolled in Parts A and B when you turn 65. 

Its Easy to Enroll for Medicare

One of the nice aspects of Medicare is that its easy to enroll. In fact, there are three options for enrolling, and you can choose the one that works best for you. The first option is to visit the Medicare website, where youll be prompted to answer a few simple questions and fill out the online forms. From there, your application will be processed and youll be notified of its status. The second option is to apply by calling the Social Security Office, 1-800-772-1213, and follow the prompts until you speak with a representative. Make sure youre clear in that youre applying for Medicare and not Social Security benefits. The third option is to visit a social security office. There are generally several offices in each state, and staff there can help you in the enrollment process. 

There are Low Income Medicare Options

While Part A is free for most people, every state has a Medicare Savings Programs that can help pay for Part B premiums. These programs may also be able to help pay copays and deductibles. There is also a federal program named Extra Help that is designed to help pay for Part D prescription drug costs.

Whether or not retirement is on the horizon, now is a good time to get yourself familiar with all the ways that Medicare benefits you. Once you have a good understanding of how it applies to you personally, you can plan for a future where youre less worried about medical costs. 


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