Health care is a primary concern for retired Americans. Fortunately, the United States government sponsors a health insurance plan, Medicare, for those aged 65 and over. In Maryland, as in all states, Medicare beneficiaries receive coverage for medical insurance and hospital insurance under Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. They can also enroll in private Medicare health insurance plans, such as Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) or Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage).
Original Medicare consists of two parts: Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance). Original Medicare is available to U.S. citizens and legal residents aged 65 and over, and those with qualifying disabilities. In Maryland, as in every state, you’re automatically enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65, if you’re already collecting Social Security benefits (or if you’re younger than 65 but collecting disability benefits).
If you’re not enrolled automatically, you can sign up for Original Medicare during the seven-month Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, which begins three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months later. You can also join Medicare during the annual General Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1 to March 31, but if you miss your Initial Enrollment Period and end up joining Medicare at a later date, you might pay a late-enrollment penalty, which translates into higher monthly premiums.
Medicare beneficiaries in Maryland, like those in other states, can generally enroll in Medicare Part A for free if they’ve worked at least 10 years while paying Medicare taxes. If you don’t qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A, you may have to pay a premium.
As a Medicare Part A beneficiary, you’re eligible for the following health benefits:
Original Medicare also includes medical insurance, under Medicare Part B. You pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B. Under Medicare Part B, Maryland beneficiaries may get services and supplies such as, but not limited to:
Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) is private insurance designed to deliver Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) benefits to those beneficiaries who prefer getting coverage through a private plan instead of through the government. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer additional coverage, such as wellness programs or vision benefits. A common type of Medicare Part C plan is a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, which combines health and prescription drug coverage into a single private plan.
You need to have Medicare Part A and Part B to sign up for Medicare Part C. Be aware that if you join a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, you have to continue paying the Medicare Part B premium. To learn more, read about Medicare Advantage plans in Maryland.
If you have Original Medicare in Maryland (as in other states), you can apply for a Medigap plan. This type of plan, also referred to as a Medicare Supplement plan, is offered by private insurance companies, and it helps pay for expenses associated with Original Medicare, like coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. You can find out more about Medigap plans in Maryland.
Prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries is available through Medicare Part D, which you can buy as a stand-alone plan to help cover prescription drug costs. Sold by private insurance companies, Medicare Part D plans may have different costs, depending on the extent of the coverage you select, but most plans require payment of a monthly premium, annual deductible, and copayment or coinsurance. For more information, see Medicare Part D in Maryland.
As a Maryland resident, you may have access to various private Medicare plans, depending on the county in which you live. If you live in Baltimore, in Baltimore County, you may have different private Medicare plan offerings than a resident of Columbia in Howard County.
Which type of Medicare insurance do you prefer? It’s a good idea to do some research based on your personal health and prescription needs.
There are a number of resources designed to help Medicare beneficiaries in Maryland find information. Here are some of the resources that may be helpful to you: