What to look for when comparing Medicare plans

An agent meets with a potential customer.

Managing healthcare costs includes understanding what Medicare covers—and what it doesn't. When you compare Medicare options, you can find out which policies may serve you best.

You have many Medicare options

These are the different types of Medicare coverage:

Original Medicare

Includes both Part A and Part B. The federal government administers this coverage.

Part A coverage help pay for nursing care and hospital stays, but not doctors' fees or long-term care.1

You can elect Part B, which helps pay for a portion of doctor visits, outpatient procedures, laboratory tests, ambulatory care, mental health care, and some home health services.2

Most people don't pay a premium for Part A, but pay a fee (based on income) if they want Part B.3

If you don't sign up for Part B when you're first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B.

Medicare Advantage

Also known as Part C. This coverage is offered by private companies.

Part A and Part B benefits are included in this coverage.

These policies often include dental, hearing, and prescription coverage.4

  • Medicare Advantage plans include health maintenance organization (HMO) plans
  • Preferred provider organizations (PPO) plans, HMO Point-Of-Service (HMO POS) plans
  • Private fee-for-service (PFFS) plans
  • Special needs plans (SNPs), and medical savings account plans.5

Medicare Part D

The prescription plan that covers some (but not all) medications.

If your prescription is not on the formulary list, you will pay out-of-pocket costs.

The premium costs for Part D vary by plan.6

Medicare Supplement plans

People can purchase a Medicare Supplement insurance plan from private companies that may help offset some out-of-pocket costs.

These plans help with expenses not paid by Parts A and B. They do not, however, work with Medicare Advantage plans.7

Customizing Medicare A, B, C, and D

Choosing the right plan for you depends on a variety of personal factors.

It's important to compare your options to see what works best for you. Different plans offer different coverage and benefits. For example, Medicare Supplement plans let you see any doctor that is accepting Medicare patients; Medicare Advantage HMOs limit you to providers in the plan while seeing a PPO provider that is outside the network can cost extra.

Weigh the pros and cons of each plan, and be sure to factor in any expected out-of-pocket costs. This can empower you to choose a plan that provides the coverage you need to thrive during retirement.

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