Medicare 101: What You Need to Know

Medicare 101: What You Need to Know

Signing up for Medicare services can be satisfying yet overwhelming. It’s a service you’ve earned through contributions over the years, so it’s important to claim your benefits! We’ve put together the basics you need to know and consider before signing up for Medicare.

The Four Parts of Medicare

When it comes to Medicare, there are four separate parts you need to know and understand.

  • Part A covers hospital care and some home health services.
  • Part B is like your medical insurance and covers doctor visits and outpatient services.
  • Part C is called the Medicare Advantage Plans and is an elective plan providing extra coverage through private insurance companies.
  • Part D is prescription drug coverage.
Enrollment Deadlines

It’s important to sign up within your initial enrollment period or you could face higher premiums/late penalties for the rest of your life. The initial enrollment period is the seven-month period that begins three months before the month you turn 65. Coverage can begin as early as your birth month, so take care of this as early as possible.


Most Medicare recipients don’t pay a premium for Part A services. Part B is where the premiums come in. In 2017, the standard part B premium will be $134 for new enrollees who haven’t yet claimed social security. For Social security recipients, the premium will be $109. Premiums may also be higher for retirees with a modified adjusted gross income above $85,000/year for individuals and $170,000 for couples.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

For 2017, Part B recipients are responsible for a $183 deductible and then 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for most services with no annual limit on out-of-pocket expenses. For Part A, there is a $1,316 deductible if you are hospitalized, plus additional costs if your stay is longer than 60 days.

No-Cost Services

Medicare recipients are entitled to free wellness visits once a year. Other preventive services are also provided at no cost, including flu shots and mammograms.

Prescription Coverage

Part D covers your prescription services. Most recipients have about 22 drug coverage plans to choose from depending upon your area. These plans cover your medication costs, and premium costs can vary from year to year.

Additional Coverage

To fill in the gaps that Medicare doesn’t cover, Medigap plans are available. They pick up costs for many items that Medicare doesn’t cover. These are independent plans that you choose and pay for to help cover costs you could infer from what Medicare does not cover.

Getting Help

At Errand Works, we understand that making Medicare related decisions can be confusing. To help seniors, we offer our Health Insurance Life Preserver service. This service takes the confusion out of choosing health insurance coverage, including Medicare. Based on your specific needs and finances, our Health Insurance Analyst will prepare two to three suggestions of comprehensive plans that best fit your needs. Errand Works does not sell insurance, and we do not have any financial stake in our suggestions for coverage. We simply provide guidance in an easy-to-understand format which will put your mind at ease when making these choices.

If your Medicare enrollment or re-enrollment period is coming up, contact us! We would love to help your understand your options and feel confident in your decisions.