Medicare Parts C and D video transcript
Once you have Medicare Parts A & B, you have options. This is where Parts C, D and Medigap come in. "Original" Medicare (Parts A & B) is managed by the federal government.
Private companies -like Priority Health - manage Medicare Advantage plans (Part C), Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D) and supplemental plans, known as Medigap.
Medicare Advantage, or "Part C"
A Medicare Advantage plan combines hospital coverage (Medicare Part A) and medical coverage (Medicare Part B).
Some Medicare Advantage plans also include Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, and are known as MAPD plans.
Medicare Advantage has predictable copayments, so you're not surprised by how much you have to pay when you see your doctor. They have monthly premiums, and a network of doctors and hospitals that participate in the plan. Some Medicare Advantage plans even offer coverage for things like dental, vision, and gym memberships.
With Medicare Advantage plans, you only have to carry your health plan's member ID card, so you can put away that red-white-and-blue Medicare card. To join a Medicare Advantage plan, you have to be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, and live within the plan's service area. You'll continue to pay your Part B premium to the government, which can be deducted from your social security check. You'll also pay a separate monthly premium to your insurance company for your Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare supplement (Medigap) plans
If a Medicare Advantage plan isn't right for you, you can stick with Original Medicare (just Parts A & B). And if Original Medicare doesn't cover everything you need, you have another option.
You can purchase a Medicare supplement plan to cover costs that Original Medicare doesn't. This coverage is often called "Medigap." For example, if Original Medicare covered 80% of your doctor bill, a Medigap plan could cover the remaining 20%. It's important to know that a Medigap plan only works with Original Medicare.
So, if you choose a Medigap plan, you can't have a Medicare Advantage plan, and vice versa.
Medicare Part D prescription coverage
And finally, there's Medicare Part D. It covers most drugs that Medicare Parts A & B don't. Original Medicare and Medigap plans don't include Part D. So if you choose one of these plans, you'll need to purchase drug coverage separately through a private insurance company.
When to enroll
Now, let's talk about enrolling. After you've signed up for Parts A & B, you can choose a Medicare Advantage plan at any time during your initial 7 month enrollment period. This is the 3 months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, and the three months after. Each year, you have the option to switch your Medicare Advantage or your Part D prescription drug plan during the annual enrollment period, which runs October 15 to December 7.
You can sign up for a Medigap plan at any time, but the best time is during your open enrollment period, because you're guaranteed acceptance into a plan regardless of your health. Your 6-month Medigap open enrollment period begins on the first day of the month in which you are both 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B. If you pass the enrollment period and apply for a Medigap plan later, your health will affect your acceptance - and your premium