What do all these different "Parts" of Medicare mean?
Part A is for your hospital bills. It helps pay for inpatient care, skilled nursing care and some home care and hospice care. Part B pays the doctor. It also pays for supplies that are not covered by Part A. Part C is also called Medicare Advantage; it is available in many areas but not all. With this, you have the option of receive all of your services through another provider. Part D is for your medications. Joining is voluntary and there is a monthly cost for the Part D coverage. In order to be eligible for Part D you have to have both Part A and Part B.
What do I need to know about how to apply for Part D Medicare?
If you wish to enroll in an Advantage Plan then you have to have both part and live in certain service areas. You can enroll as soon as you become eligible for Medicare. This applies to you whether you get Medicare because you are 65 or because you are disabled. If you miss the initial enrollment period you do not have to worry too much because between November 15 and December 31 each year you can enroll in a prescription drug plan. The thing is though if you do not enroll when first eligible you may have to pay a penalty or higher premium.
Exactly how much is all this going to cost me?
Plans vary and so do prices. You will be responsible for annual deductibles for your prescription drugs if your plan has one. You may be responsible for co-pays for the drugs also. This is usually after the annual deductible is met. There is also something called a coverage gap that starts after you spend a certain amount. If you fall in this gap you have to pay the full price of any prescription you need. There is also something call catastrophic coverage that covers you after you reach your out of pocket maximum for the year. The premium for Part D is about $35.00 - $40.00 a month for most people.
So how do you apply for Part D?
You can do so by mail, just call the Medicare office, ask for Form SSA-1020, complete it, and return it to the office. You can also apply be phone by calling your local Medicare office and a case manager will help you. Your last option is to apply on line at the social security website. In all of these instances social security will review the application and let you know if you qualify for the additional help.