What is Medicare?

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Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance for those 65 and older, or younger individuals who qualify under certain circumstances. Basic Medicare consists of Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (medical coverage), also known as “Original Medicare.” You also have the option of enrolling in Part C (a private Medicare insurance plan) and Part D (prescription drug coverage).

When can I enroll in Medicare?

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You can enroll in Medicare 3 months before or up to 3 months after the month of your 65th birthday (not the specific date). For example, if your birthday is July 20, your Medicare benefits would begin July 1 provided you enrolled beforehand. If you enroll after the beginning of your birth month, your benefits will be delayed until the following month.

I plan on working past 65. If I wait until retirement to enroll in Medicare Part B, will I be penalized?

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If you’re still working and have employer-provided coverage, you should contact your Benefits Administrator to determine if you need to enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B. In certain circumstances, your benefits plan may require you to pay for what Original Medicare would cover if you fail to enroll when you’re first eligible. If you are not covered at work, review Medicare plan choices in your area.

Why do some people choose a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan?

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Medicare alone, also referred to as “Original Medicare,” is often referred to as “80/20” coverage. That means Medicare pays 80 percent of your medical expenses, leaving you to pay the rest on your own. Many people do not want to pay for things like coinsurance, copays, and deductibles out of their own pocket — especially since they can’t predict what these costs might be. For most people, a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan makes sense.

If I choose a Medicare plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, does that take the place of Original Medicare?

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No. Enrolling in a Medicare plan does not mean that you’re “forfeiting” your Medicare coverage. By enrolling in a private insurance plan (also called Medicare Part C) you’re getting your Original Medicare benefits PLUS additional benefits.

How does a Blue Cross Medicare plan work?

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When you choose a Medicare plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, you’re getting all the benefits of Medicare PLUS extended coverage for costs that Medicare alone won’t cover…optional dental and vision coverage…and added extras like a fitness program.

Depending on the type of plan you choose, you may pay a low monthly premium and a low copay for things like doctor visits. You can also choose a plan with a slightly higher premium but with much lower out-of-pocket costs. Either way, you get access to our large network of doctors and hospitals.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama offers several different types of Medicare plans with different monthly premiums and different levels of coverage. You can click here to compare your options.

Will money be taken out of my Social Security check for Medicare?

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Part A is free for most people. You only pay a premium for Part A if you or your spouse has not worked and contributed to Social Security for 40 work quarters (10 years). Most people pay a monthly premium for Part B. You can either write a check to Social Security or have the premium automatically deducted from your Social Security check.

Will I face a penalty if I wait to enroll in Medicare Part D?

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Yes. You will have to pay a Medicare Late Enrollment Penalty if, at any time after your Initial Enrollment Period is over, there’s a period of 63 or more days in a row when you don’t have Part D or other creditable prescription drug coverage.

What if I choose a plan and I want to change it?

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You can change your coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period if you feel that another Blue Cross plan would be a better fit.

Where can I get help in choosing a plan?

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Call us. We will be happy to answer your questions about Medicare and help you find a Medicare plan based on your healthcare concerns and budget. Call us at 1-855-828-3982 (TTY 711) 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week*

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