October 2000
Your Medicare Choices — An Overview
Starting with the Basics
  • What is traditional Medicare?
  • What do Medicare Part A, Part B and HMOs help pay for?
  • What is Medigap?
  • What is Medicare managed care?
  • Three Examples

  • Marge Is Glad She Purchased Medigap
  • Doris Adores Her Doctor
  • Harold Is Healthy
  • Traditional Medicare or a Medicare HMO: How Do You Decide?


    Starting with the basics Starting with the Basics
    Does the very word Medicare make your head spin? You're not alone. Medicare options are changing so fast, and so often, it's no wonder people are confused—and upset. Whether you (or your parents!) have just reached Medicare age (65 years), or are having to change Medicare managed care coverage (again!), here are some explanations to help you choose.

    What is traditional Medicare?
    It's the government's insurance program for Social Security recipients aged 65 or older (and some disabled people under age 65). With traditional Medicare, you may chose any Medicare-certified physicians, specialists, and hospital without restrictions. Eligibility for traditional Medicare is not income-based—it is available to all who qualify for Social Security. It covers most—but not all—of your healthcare needs—hospitalization, physicians, nurses, and other basic services.

    Traditional Medicare covers many—but not all—of your medical costs for certain services. Medicare Part A is free, and you can be enrolled at age 65. Part A covers fully the first 60 days of hospital and nursing home care (after the deductible has been met), and part of days 61-150. Medicare Part B, which covers certain physician and outpatient services, is optional, and you pay a monthly premium (about $45) for this coverage.

    If you don't have a Medigap policy, you'll also pay a yearly deductible (in 2000, this was $776 for Part A and $100 for Part B) and co-payments (partial payments of the cost of care you receive for some services under Parts A and B). The chart below shows the services Parts A and B help to pay for.

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    What does Medicare Part A help pay for?
      Yes No
    Hospitalization X  
    Nursing home care X  
    Home health care X  
    Some hospice care X  
    What does Medicare Part B help pay for?
      Yes No
    Doctors and skilled nursing care X  
    Medical equipment such as wheelchairs X  
    Some preventive services X  
    Some outpatient and home health care X  
    Prescription medications   X
    Eye care, glasses or contact lenses   X
    Dental care; Hearing aids   X
    Annual physical exams   X
    What do Medicare HMOs help pay for?
      Yes No
    Medicare Parts A and B X  
    Prescriptions X  
    Eye care, glasses or contact lenses X  
    Dental care; hearing aids X  
    Annual physical exams X  

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