What is Medicare?
Medicare is the main insurance for people 65 and older and also provides coverage for some people with disabilities. It is the nation's largest health insurance program - covering 49 million Americans in 2012. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which runs the program, provides lots of information on its Medicare website. Here is additional information about the program.
Medigap: Supplemental insurance if you have Medicare
Known as Medigap, supplemental insurance policies cover expenses not paid for by Medicare. It is important to shop around for a Medigap policy. Under Wisconsin law all Medigap policies provide certain basic benefits, but many plans offer various optional benefits as well. In addition, premiums can vary by many hundreds of dollars even for plans that offer the same basic benefits.
- Medicare Supplement Insurance Approved Policies List (PDF), from Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI), includes the actual premiums that companies charge. OCI also offers the following publications to help you decide whether supplemental insurance is right for you and how to find a Medigap policy.
- Wisconsin Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare (PDF): Explains Medicare and supplemental insurance to cover those expenses not paid by Medicare.
- More about Medigap insurance: including information on protections for Medigap policy holders, how to shop for a Medigap policy, and comparing policies. For more help, call the Wisconsin Medigap Helpline at 1-800-242-1060
Medicare Advantage: Medicare managed care plans
In some parts of Wisconsin, people covered by Medicare can receive their benefits through a managed care plan.
- Medicare Advantage Plans in Wisconsin (PDF): This brochure, from OCI, explains options under a Medicare Advantage managed care plan (formerly called Medicare+Choice).
- Medicare Plan Finder, on the Medicare website, provides information on plans available in your area. You can also call Wisconsin's Medigap Hotline at 1-800-242-1060.
Medicare and prescription drug coverage
People with Medicare can enroll in plans that cover some prescription drug costs. Medicare provides the following resources to help you choose a Part D plan:
- Information about the Medicare drug benefit
- Find a Medicare prescription drug plan from the Medicare Plan Finder (search tool).
Before deciding to apply for the Medicare drug benefit, you should consider whether Wisconsin SeniorCare would be a better choice for you. SeniorCare is a prescription drug assistance program for Wisconsin residents who are 65 years of age or older and who meet the eligibility rules.
More help and information
- BenefitsCheckUp, a service of the National Council on Aging, can help you find public programs that may pay for some health-care-related costs.
- Wisconsin Physicians Service is the state carrier for Medicare Part B, which helps pay for doctors' services, outpatient hospital care, and some other health care such as the services of physical and occupational therapists, and some home health care.