Deciding what Medicare plan to go with may seem stressful at first, but it can actually be pretty simple once you break it down. You mostly need to understand the basics of how Medicare works. After you learn the plans, you can decide which coverage is right for you.


Understand How Medicare Works

You need to learn how Medicare works before you choose a plan. People aged 65 and older are eligible for Medicare. People under 65 may be eligible if they have certain diseases or disabilities. Most people sign up for Medicare when they turn 65, but if you’re already getting Social Security benefits you are already enrolled.

There are different parts to Medicare. Part A covers hospital stays, skilled nursing facility stays and hospice. The money is paid by the federal government and most people don’t pay a monthly premium. Part B covers medical care such as doctor’s visits and outpatient procedures. It is paid by the federal government and you may have a monthly premium that is based on your income.

Part C covers what A and B cover, along with dental and vision coverage. It’s paid for by private insurance companies contracted with the federal government. You usually pay a monthly premium for this.

Part D covers prescription drugs. It is also paid for by private insurance companies that contract with the federal government and you usually pay a monthly premium.


Determine Your Needs and Choose a Plan

The monthly premium for Part B averaged $134 in 2017  and is usually taken out of your Social Security payment. However, since the Part B premium increased more than the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security, most people will pay less than that. If you pay for Part B premium through Social Security, you will probably pay $109 a month instead. If you didn’t sign up when you first became eligible, your premium could be higher.

If your modified adjusted gross income is above $85,000 for a single person or $170,000 for joint filers, the monthly adjustment will vary from $54 to $295.

If you’re still working and covered under your union or employer’s health insurance, or your spouse’s health insurance, you may not need coverage. Part B may not be necessary until you lose that coverage.

Supplemental Health Insurance

If you don’t have retiree benefits, you can choose to sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan. Alternatively, you can buy specially designed supplemental insurance. These plans vary widely in what they cover, but many will cover prescriptions, co-pays, and even lost wages in the event of an illness or accident.

See GoMedigap for more information on some of the supplemental insurance available for Medicare.

Choose Wisely

Now that you know more about the plans and coverage for Medicare, you can make a wise decision in picking a plan. Ask yourself questions like: How often do I go to the doctor? Do I take prescription medications regularly? What are the most important aspects of your healthcare? Do I already have any coverage?

With these questions, you will be on your way to choosing the right plan.