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    Health Care Reform:

    Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

    Enrolling in Medicare

    Step 2 for Enrolling in Medicare continued...

    Before opting out of Medicare Part B, it would be a good idea to talk to the group benefits administrator with your other health insurance plan. In some cases, Medicare Part B would be your main insurance even if you have other coverage.

    If you sign up for Part B, you will pay a deductible each year before Medicare starts to pick up health care costs for Part B services. The Part B deductible for 2015 is $147 each year. Beneficiaries may be able to get help from their state to pay this premium and deductible.

    Step 3 for Medicare Enrollment

    Your retiree health insurance plan may pay for some of the deductibles or co-payments that you have to pay with Medicare coverage. If you don't have retiree health benefits, you can decide to participate in a Medicare Advantage plan that covers some of the gaps in Medicare coverage. Or you can buy specially designed health insurance that supplements Medicare, called Medigap insurance.

    Medigap Insurance

    Medigap plans are sold by private companies to seniors on Medicare. These plans are meant to help pay for services Medicare alone does not.

    If you are going to buy a Medigap plan, you should do so within six months of taking Medicare Part B. During this six-month window, insurers:

    • Can't deny you coverage
    • Can't delay the start of your coverage
    • Can't charge you more based on pre-existing health problems

    If you try to buy a Medigap policy after your six-month enrollment period has ended, you are not guaranteed coverage.

    To learn about Medigap plans offered in your area, you can use the online Medicare Personal Plan Finder. Or, you can request a copy of ''Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare'' by calling 1-800‑MEDICARE (1‑800‑633‑4227).

    Medicare Advantage Plans

    These plans allow seniors to receive both Medicare Parts A and B benefits through a private health insurer that contracts with Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans cover hospitalization, outpatient care, and, often, prescription-drug coverage under one plan. Many also include extra services that original Medicare doesn't cover, such as dental and vision care. To join, you must already have Medicare Part A and Part B. Your Medicare Advantage plan may also require a monthly fee for some of the plan's extra benefits.

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