Looking For Medicare Information

Someone approaching Medicare age recently asked where he could find information about Medicare Parts C and D. He also asked for suggestions on finding coverage that was good for him.

Regular readers know that Medicare is administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a component of the Department of Health and Human Services. Official Medicare information is on the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov.

The Social Security role with Medicare is primarily to help people enroll in Medicare Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Medical). Social Security is also largely responsible for running Part D Extra Help, the Prescription Drug Coverage income based program that can help pay for parts of premiums, annual deductibles and co-payments.

General Medicare information is on the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare/.  From there, the booklet Medicare is a good starting point for basic information.

Quoting from that booklet:

Medicare has four parts  

  • Hospital insurance (Part A) helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay), some home health care and hospice care.
  •  Medical insurance (Part B) helps pay for services from doctors and other health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some preventive services.
  •  Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) are available in many areas. People with Medicare Parts  A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through a single provider under Part C.
  • Prescription drug coverage (Part D) helps pay for the costs of prescription drugs.

None of the above directly answers the question of where to get information and help about Medicare Parts C and D. That comes now, I hope.

In particular, a section of the official Medicare website called Helpful Contacts at www.medicare.gov/contacts/ contains drop-down boxes for you to enter your state and topic of interest.

The same section has links to other helpful sites including State agencies and others. Especially those connected to State agencies had no connection to any specific insurance company or product.

Medicare Parts C and D are sold by private firms so you must shop around to determine if a given product is needed or good for you.