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Retirement Planning

Understanding your Medicare coverage options

Medicare will factor into your health insurance when you retire but you need to recognize that different parts of Medicare cover different services.

Medicare covers the health care needs of seniors and others who qualify for coverage. The type of Medicare coverage that you select will affect your out-of-pocket expenses, your benefits, and the ability for you to select your own health care provider and coverage options.

If you're getting ready to retire and are looking at health care coverage through Medicare, it's important to understand that different parts of Medicare cover different services. You may have already heard about the four parts of Medicare: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D.

We hope the following can help you better understand what this Medicare coverage alphabet means so you can plan your retirement accordingly. So without delay, here's your Medicare primer:

Part A is commonly known as hospital insurance. It covers most hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health and hospice care. If you've worked most of your life and paid Medicare tax for at least 10 years total, there is no cost for this coverage. If you worked less, you'll be subject to a premium.

Part B is your medical insurance. This covers medical costs such as doctors' visits, preventive care, medical equipment, outpatient services, tests and x-rays. If you want this coverage, you'll have to pay a premium.

Part C really isn't considered a separate benefit per se, but a type of federally-subsidized health insurance plan. It is part of the Medicare policy in that it allows private health insurance companies to provide Medicare benefits to individuals in what is called a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans offer the same benefits as traditional Medicare parts A and B, but typically have their own rules and coverage restrictions. If you chose this route, you'll be paying your health care premiums on your own.

Part D is your prescription drug insurance.



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