Signing Up for Medicare Advantage Plans: Is Original Medicare Required?
Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Medicare Part C) are an easy way to get all the health coverage you need from one company. But, in order to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, you must first enroll in Medicare Parts A (hospital) and B (medical), which are known as Original Medicare.
If you’re already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits when you turn 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Parts A and B. You’ll also be automatically enrolled if you’ve received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or certain disability benefits from the RRB for 24 months. If you haven’t been receiving these benefits and are at least 65, you will need to sign up on your own through Social Security. As soon as you have done that, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and start fully protecting your health and budget.
There are plenty of reasons why Medicare Advantage plans are a great choice:
Many plans offer $0 premiums.
Prescription drug coverage is included.
They come with maximum out-of-pocket protection that limits the amount of money you’re responsible for in a given year.
There are no deductibles.
You get money-saving extras like dental, vision and fitness club memberships.
Many plans include transportation benefits, worldwide travel coverage and over-the-counter benefits.
You might be wondering why you shouldn't just stop at Original Medicare. While it is enough for some, Original Medicare does have some limitations. For example, it doesn’t cover routine dental and vision services or most prescription medications. There’s also no set amount that you’ll be responsible for in a year, and Parts A and B have deductibles you’d have to meet.
If you wanted financial protection and all of the things that aren’t covered with Original Medicare, you’d have to sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan, a Medicare supplement and separate dental and vision policies. That could mean you’d have as many as four numbers to call for information or help with any of your benefits. Or, you could choose a Medicare Advantage plan that gives you all of that and more — with just one number to call.