Whether you’re new to Medicare or have been a beneficiary for years, it can be very confusing.

The purpose of this article is to give you some quick information to determine what benefits will be available to you on Medicare, and what you need to do to sign up.

For the most in-depth details about your Medicare Benefits, visit Medicare.gov, or download 2017 Medicare & You.

Another resource is this comprehensive post detailing the top important updates to Medicare for 2017.

Original Medicare

Medicare Consists of Part A (hospital coverage), Part B (doctor and outpatient care), and Part D (Prescription Drug coverage).

Some people will be enrolled in Part A and B automatically, while others may need to sign up. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits by the time you turn 65, your Medicare Part A and B benefits will begin automatically on the 1st of the month you turn 65. You will receive your Medicare card prior to this date. Your Medicare card will have your effective date printed on it.

This Medicare Card is proof of your enrollment in Medicare Parts A and B. You must be able to prove you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and B in order to sign up for a Medicare Supplement, or Medicare Advantage plan.

If you are still working at the time you turn 65, and/or you are not yet receiving Social Security, you will need to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B. If you want your Medicare benefits to become effective as soon as you are eligible, make sure you sign up early! Call Social Security (1-800-772-1213) three months before you turn 65 to find out about your eligibility, and to enroll.

Medicare Part A

      • Hospital insurance  (covers inpatient hospital visits).
      • Without a supplement, you must pay a deductible of $1316 for each hospital visit, in 2017.
      • Part A helps cover skilled nursing facility stays, hospice and home health care.
      • If you or your spouse paid medicare taxes while working, you should not have to pay for Part A.

Medicare Part B

      • Medical Insurance (everything other than hospital visits).
      • Covers doctor visits, outpatient services and home health care.
      • Without a supplement, you pay an annual deductible of $183 (in 2017), then 20%.
      • You must pay a monthly premium for part B.

Medicare Part D

      • Prescription Coverage Standardized by Medicare.
      • Only available through private insurance companies.
      • If you have Original Medicare Only (A & B), or Parts A & B plus a Supplement, Medicare Part D must be purchased separately.
      • If you choose not to enroll in Part D, you will pay a penalty if you decide to sign up later.

Medicare Part C

      • Medicare Parts A & B combined, known as a Medicare Advantage Plan
      • When you enroll in Part C, you are still a Medicare Beneficiary, but no longer on Original Medicare (Parts A & B).
      • A private insurance company contracts with Medicare to combine your Part A and Part B (usually prescriptions too).
      • The insurance company dispenses your benefits instead of the Government.