Your Medicare costs will depend on the coverage you choose and the health care services you use. Medicare will help pay for many health care items and services, but you will pay a share of the cost, too. Your Medicare costs can include:
Many Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits not provided by Original Medicare, like wellness programs or a fitness benefit. Sometimes these are offered as a plan benefit, so they'll be included in the cost of a plan. Others will be offered as optional plan services called riders, which you can buy for an extra cost.
Many Medicare Advantage plans (MAPDs) include prescription drug coverage in the price of the plan. A standalone prescription drug plan is a separate plan you can buy to get the prescription drug coverage you need if you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan without drug coverage.
Part D plan premiums and cost sharing can vary widely between plans and insurance companies, even for similar coverage, so be sure to review plan details carefully.
When looking at prescription drug plan costs, be sure you understand what drug payment stages are. Medicare Part D has different stages of cost sharing until you reach a set limit on out-of-pocket costs for the year. Once you reach that limit, your plan will pay most of the cost of your drugs for the rest of the year. Learn more about drug payment stages here.
You should also ask yourself if you could use help paying for your prescription drug costs—help is available through a program called Extra Help. See more about Extra Help here.
And remember: if you decide not to join a Medicare drug plan when you're first eligible, and you don't have other creditable prescription drug coverage or get Extra Help, you'll likely pay a late enrollment penalty if you join a plan later. Generally, you'll pay this penalty for as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health care coverage for people and families with limited incomes. People eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid are called "dual eligible." If you already get Medicaid or you think you might be eligible, you might want to see if a Dual Special Needs plan is right for you. For people with limited incomes, these plans may offer better health care coverage and/or cost savings when compared to other plans.