6 Things You Should Know About Signing Up for Medicare | Smart Change: Personal Finance


2. Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything

Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs, custodial care or most hearing, vision and dental care. Medicare only partially covers some services, such as hospitalization, ambulance services and nursing home care, which means you could be responsible for copays and deductibles.

There are ways to cover at least some of the gap, with Medicare Supplemental Insurance (or Medigap) plans, or by opting for the privately administered alternative to Original Medicare called Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage (more on that below). You may also qualify for a state-sponsored Medicare Savings Program, which can help cover deductibles, copayments and more.

3. Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs — and isn’t really optional

Original Medicare includes only Parts A and B. That means if you take any prescription medications, or plan to — and don’t want to pay for them out of pocket — you’ll need to add Medicare Part D to your coverage. This can be done as an add-on to Original Medicare or bundled with a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Part D premiums average about $33 per month, according to the CMS.

Signing up on time for Part D is especially important because there’s a late-enrollment penalty if you miss your eligibility window. Medicare drug coverage can vary by medication, so start your research early to make sure your plan includes everything you need. Even if you don’t take medication now, enrolling in Part D coverage can help prepare you for future prescription costs.