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Breaking down the basics of Medicare

It can be confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Arm yourself with information, so you make the right choices.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — The enrollment period for Medicare is fast approaching. You have a window of opportunity to sign up or make changes from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

We’re going to cover some highlights here and tell you where you can get more information. First, there are four parts to Medicare: A, B, C and D.

“When you first turn 65, most people sign up for parts A and B. A covers your hospital if you're hospitalized or need skilled nursing. B is your doctor's office visits, your lab tests and things like that. And Part D is your prescription drug that you can sign up for, so those are kind of the basics,” says Joel LeLacheur with UnitedHealthcare.

We know, we skipped C. We'll get to that in a moment. But here's the deal. The basics that Joel mentioned don't cover everything.

“It typically covers 80% of most covered charges, so there's another 20% that you're still on the hook for, and that's why you need additional coverage. In most cases that's what make sense for most people,” he says.

Many folks choose to add a supplement plan to help pick up that 20%. Or, you could choose Medicare part C, the one we haven't talked about yet, which kind of rolls everything altogether into one, much like an employer plan would.

“But then you get the advantage of those extra benefits like dental, vision and gym memberships, so lots of additional things that are covered on those plans, so that's why those are becoming more and more popular,” he adds.

“Both Medicare Advantage part C plans or Medicare supplement plans are offered through private companies. They are all regulated by the Center for Medicare Services or CMS," he says.

But here's the deal; what works for you may be different than what works for your best friend or neighbor. And both your life circumstances, and the plans, change every year, so it's good to update what you need, and that means getting educated on what's available.

“We have lots of agents out in the field that put on events. We're doing a lot of webinars this year so everybody can be safe and distanced. Whatever they're comfortable with and there's information online too," says Joel.

There are many places to get information about Medicare and supplement plans. UnitedHealthcare’s site is gettoknowmedicare.com.