Learn More About Medicare

Medicare doesn't have to be confusing. We've put together a simple explanation below showing how the pieces fit together to help you identify the right coverage for your needs.

Original Medicare

Original Medicare is comprised of Parts A and B and is the traditional fee-for-service program offered through the federal government. Under Original Medicare, you may be responsible for paying annual deductibles and 20 percent of your medical bills for services covered under Parts A and B, with no limit on expenses.

Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C)

Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage plans, allows private health insurance companies like Blue KC to provide Medicare benefits. These plans replace Original Medicare and offer extra benefits – all under one plan.

Medicare Advantage Plans Graphic

Part A: Hospital

Hospital insurance that’s free as long as you have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. It helps cover costs if you’re a patient in a hospital, a skilled nursing facility or hospice care.

Part B: Medical

Medical insurance that helps cover costs for doctors’ services, outpatient hospital care, durable medical equipment and other medical services. You must continue paying Part B premiums if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Part D: Prescription Drugs

Outpatient prescription drug coverage offered through private health insurance companies at a separate cost, or built into a Medicare Advantage plan.

Extra Benefits

May include extras associated with dental, vision, hearing and fitness club memberships.

Medicare Supplement Plans

Medicare Supplement, also referred to as Medigap, works with Original Medicare and can help pay for copayments, deductibles and certain costs not covered by Original Medicare, such as Part B excess charges.

Key Enrollment Dates


Initial Coverage Enrollment Period

For those turning 65 (and therefore becoming eligible for Medicare for the first time), you may enroll from three months before to three months after you become eligible for Medicare.

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

From October 15 to December 7, you can switch to, drop or join a different Medicare plan.

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

You may be able to enroll at a different time of the year. To learn more about special enrollment periods, visit http://www.medicare.gov.

During the Annual Disenrollment Period

Medicare Advantage enrollees may leave their plans and switch to Original Medicare plus a stand-alone Part D plan (if desired) from January 1 to February 14.


Avoiding Enrollment Penalties

Enrolling in Medicare when you become eligible is critical. Penalties can include substantially higher premiums, which may be permanent. You could also face longer wait times to secure coverage.

Find the Medicare Plan That's Right for You

Is a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement plan right for you? Our online Medicare Plan Finder can help. Use it to find a plan that might be a good match for your healthcare needs.

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