Navigating the Medicare maze can be as daunting as doing your taxes, or worse. If you're just getting your feet wet, you may become perplexed by all of the information on the Internet and other sources. On this page we've included several of the best links to helpful, useful advice and information. Those links are spread throughout this page and summarized at the very bottom.
Medicare & You is Medicare's official guide and member handbook. Published each year, it contains more than 100 pages of information about Medicare qualifications, enrollment, benefits and options. If you're just getting started, it's a great resource to get you acquainted and answer some of your initial questions about Medicare. The link provided at the beginning of this paragraph, as well as the one at the bottom of the page, will open a .pdf version of the current enrollment period's guide that you can either read or download for viewing at your leisure.
Medicare.gov has a "getting started" page that walks you through the process of determining eligibility and taking the steps necessary to choose your coverage and enroll. Medicare's website also has a helpful video condensing the process into only three and a half minutes. Click the red "play" icon in the image below:
You may have heard of Medicare Advantage Plans. Unlike a Medigap policy (mentioned below), a Medicare Advantage Plan is a way to obtain full Medicare benefits, while a Medigap policy only supplements basic Medicare benefits. Some Advantage plans are available with zero-cost premiums to you. You can browse these plans in your area by visiting Medicare's Plan Finder and following the instructions there.
A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy can help pay some of the health care costs that basic Medicare doesn't, like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Some Medigap policies also offer coverage for services that Medicare doesn't cover, like medical care when you travel abroad. If you have Medicare and you buy a Medigap policy, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount for covered health care costs. Then your Medigap policy pays its share. To find Medigap policies available in your Zip Code, visit Medicare's Medigap Policy Search page.
Bob Carlson's Retirement Watch featured a nice article in 2014 containing tips for choosing a Medicare Supplement Plan. The article, linked below, may be a bit "senior" itself but the information is still very useful. Give it a read!