Part C (Medicare Advantage)
What is it?
Medicare Part A and Part B make up what is sometimes called "Original Medicare." While Parts A and B are helpful, most people who are Medicare eligible buy more insurance. Let's look at Part C, or Medicare Advantage plans, which are offered by private insurance companies.
Unlike Original Medicare, a Medicare Advantage plan often has different rules for how you get services or which medical providers you can see. You pay a monthly premium for Part C coverage.
So what's the advantage?
Private insurance companies that offer Part C usually offer other benefits, such as hearing, dental, and wellness programs. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for prescription drugs. Because there are many differences between Part C plans, you should take your time to shop and compare.
What are the details?
You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan when you first become eligible for Medicare. The Initial Enrollment Period starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends three months after your birthday month. To be eligible, you must live in the area where the Medicare Advantage Plan is being offered. You can switch plans from October 15 through December 7 during the Annual Enrollment Period. In most cases, you will stay enrolled for the calendar year starting from the date your coverage begins. But sometimes you can change your Medicare Advantage Plan. If you move or lose your insurance coverage, you may be able change your plan during a special enrollment period.
- If you're a citizen or permanent resident of the United States age 65 or older, you can still enroll in Medicare Part A even if your full Social Security retirement age is not 65.
- If you're getting Social Security or Railroad Retiree benefits, you will be signed up for Medicare Part A without having to do anything.
- If you work past age 65 for a company with 20 or more fulltime employees, you can use your company's plan as your main coverage.