Medicare Health Insurance

Medicare at a Glance (cont.)

Can I have other types of health insurance?

Yes. In addition to Medicare, you may already have health care coverage such as employer or retiree coverage or another type of health insurance. There are times when your other coverage or health insurance must pay before Medicare pays. Talk to your benefits administrator to see how your other coverage or health insurance works with Medicare.

If you have the Original Medicare Plan, you might also want to buy a Medigap (Medicare Supplemental Health Insurance) Policy. A Medigap policy is a health insurance policy sold by private insurance companies to fill "gaps" in Original Medicare Plan coverage. You might be able to lower your out-of-pocket costs by buying a Medigap policy. Buying a Medigap policy is your decision. You don't need to buy a Medigap policy if you choose a Medicare Advantage Plan.

How can I get help to pay health care costs?

There are programs that help millions of people with Medicare save money each year. If you have limited income and resources, your State may help pay Medicare premiums and, in some cases, may also pay Medicare deductibles and coinsurance. You must meet certain conditions. Call your State Medical Assistance Office and ask for information on Medicare Savings Programs. To get their telephone number, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). For information on help paying health care costs look at on the web. Select "Prescription Drug and Other Assistance Programs."

How are the new changes in Medicare?

The Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 gives you more choices in how you get your current health care benefits, and adds new benefits. Medicare-approved drug discount cards are now available. Medicare Prescription Drug Plans start in 2006 to help you pay for your prescription drugs.

Changes also include adding more types of Medicare Advantage Plans. Starting January 1, 2005, new preventive benefits will be available, such as cardiovascular, screening blood tests, diabetes screening tests, and a one-time "Welcome to Medicare" physical exam.

What are Medicare-approved drug discount cards?

A Medicare-approved drug discount card can help you save on your outpatient prescription drug costs. These discount cards are available now. You can enroll anytime until December 31, 2005. This is a temporary program to help with your prescription drug costs until Medicare prescription drug plans start in 2006. For more information about Medicare-approved drug discount cards, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

How can I get help paying for my prescription drugs?

If you choose to get a Medicare-approved drug discount card and have a low income, you might get extra help. You might qualify for up to a $600 credit on your discount card in 2004, and again in 2005. You must meet certain conditions. To learn more about the $600 credit and conditions, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Where can I get more information?

Medicare is here for you 24 hours a day, every day. To get more information about Medicare and to get free Medicare booklets

  • look at on the web. For free booklets, select "Publications." This is the fastest way to get a copy, or
  • call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. If you order a booklet, your copy will arrive within three weeks.

Many booklets are available in English, Spanish, Audiotape (English and Spanish), Braille, and Large Print (English and Spanish).

This information is from Publication No. CMS - 11082 September 2004