Few people know the ins and outs of Medicare until they reach the 65-year benchmark. I know it can be a frustrating web to untangle especially for some seniors who aren’t tech-savvy. The good news is that it’s actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it. There are many states that offer easy to understand web sites and phone support to help you navigate the system.

Some seniors are intimidated by the process and shy away from taking advantage of online tools. This is a mistake because it’s often easier to figure out the process online rather than relying solely on phone calls. You can save the materials, re-read information at your leisure and it’s available 24/7. Just like an Search Engine Optimization (SEO) company, it’s there to make life easier.

Knowing the Foundation

Medicare consists of four major ‘Parts’ including A, B, C and D. Most people have both parts A and B. Part A is automatic if you qualify for Medicare and you don’t pay a premium. Part B must be applied for and there is a monthly premium based on past earnings, how much you or your spouse paid into Medicare taxes while you worked and potentially other factors.

Parts C and D include additional coverage such as prescription drugs. However, even if you have all four of these plans you may need additional coverage. This is where Supplemental Medicare Insurance, or Medigap, comes into play. Every state offers different Medigap plans but the average is 10 available options.

Do You Need More Than Medicare?

The tricky part about Medigap is that every insurance carrier in your state will offer a different premium price. This is why it’s essential to shop around and the easiest way to do this is online. Most states offer a list of qualified carriers on the Department of Insurance or other official government site. Make sure you are looking at a site that ends in .gov when searching for the list of carriers.

There may also be third-party non-profit organizations in your state that offer comparison services. Comparing the premiums of dozens of different companies can be a long process. However, it’s necessary in order to secure the best rates. Different companies consider different factors such as age or health status that might impact your premiums.

Don’t Forget Your Other Options

Medicare Select is an option that combines Medicare Parts A and B but works similar to a preferred provider organization (PPO). You will usually get a much lower premium but can only see doctors within a certain network. If you’re open to seeing those doctors and can commit to only seeing them, this is a great avenue for saving money.

Browsing online to research other money-saving options can also help you budget for healthcare. Some states offer low or free supplemental coverage for low-income seniors. Don’t automatically dismiss the term ‘low-income’ because it varies by state. Utilize the web to find different programs, compare costs and ensure that you’re getting the best deal.