What’s on Your Medicare Checklist?

Senior couple visiting a doctor at the doctor's office

Although you can’t sign up for Medicare benefits until age 65, it's important to begin researching your options long before lighting all those candles on your cake, says internal medicine and gerontology specialist Kathleen Rogers, MD.

Among the first decisions are when to start using Medicare.

“I would suggest that people start looking at what's available right after their 64th birthday,” she says. “Get as much information as you can. It can be confusing, but down the line the more education you have, the better off you will be.”

Understand Medicare’s ABCDs

The first step is understanding the various parts of Medicare and what they do. Medicare is divided into four parts, often called the ABCDs. It’s a good idea to get to know these four parts and what each covers, Dr. Rogers says.

Dr. Rogers also recommends:

  • Compare the four parts of Medicare and decide which options best match your personal medical needs.
  • Research the expenses Medicare covers, as well as those not covered.
  • Learn about the various copays and deductibles associated with parts A and B.
  • Investigate Medigap insurance and what these private policies cover.
  • Ask your primary care physician and the medical specialists you see about specific medical conditions you have and how Medicare coverage affects them.

Expert Advice

Your doctors can help with your decision-making by bringing their experience and lessons learned from helping other patients.

“I had a patient on insulin and the plan she chose did not pay adequately so there were a lot of unexpected out-of-pocket expenses,” she says. “It's a lot to sort through and everybody’s needs are different.”

University Hospitals offers a Medicare selection class through its Center for Lifelong Health’s Age Well, Be Well program.

“Get as much information as you can as soon as you can,” Dr. Rogers says. “It takes a lot of time to find the perfect plan for your individual needs.”

Related links

Looking for a primary care physician? UH offers online appointment scheduling for select UH physicians and specialties, including primary care. Or find a doctor with our online tool, which allows you to search by location.

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