Getting Started with Medicare

Getting Started with Medicare

Many people find the idea of signing up for Medicare confusing, and that is understandable.

You’re used to getting your insurance from your employer or the marketplace. After so many years of doing something one way, it can be intimidating to learn a new way.

There are many different options for your Medicare coverage and ways to find the right plan for you. This video leaving site icon provides some Medicare basics to remove some of the mystery and confusion.

We've also put together answers to some of the most common questions about Medicare.

Am I Eligible for Medicare?

You are eligible for Medicare if you are 65 or older, but you can enroll in Medicare as early as three months before your 65th birthday. Enrolling early can help make sure your benefits start on the first day you are eligible.

What is Medicare?

Medicare isn’t just one insurance plan. In fact, Medicare is broken into different parts that cover different things.  Parts A and B (Original Medicare), Part C, and Part D.

Here’s a short breakdown of those parts.

Part AHospital Coverage leaving site icon

  • Covers inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health, and hospice care

Part BMedical Insurance leaving site icon

  • Covered doctor’s services, medical services and supplies

Part CMedicare Advantage Plans leaving site icon

  • Parts A and B combined. Some Medicare Advantage Plans included prescription drug coverage

Part DPrescription Drug Coverage leaving site icon

  • Medicare Supplemental Insurance
    • Can be added to Parts A, B, and D to provide additional coverage
    • There are many supplemental plans (lettered from A-N with a few letters missing). The basic benefits of each of these lettered plans is the same across insurance companies.
How Do I Enroll in Medicare?

In addition to the initial enrollment period that begins just before your 65th birthday, there is an annual enrollment period that begins in October and runs into December. During this period, you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan or make changes to your existing Medicare coverage.

You can find more detailed enrollment information here.

Important Plan Information

Originally published 7/19/2019; Revised 2021; Reviewed 2022