Medicare can be a complicated topic, especially for seniors. Navigating the many websites and pamphlets involving this type of insurance can be time-consuming and complex. There’s no need to spend hours poring over all that material to gain a general understanding of Medicare. Here are some fast facts that every senior should know:

Your coverage options vary

Medicare Made Clear mentioned there are several variables that go into what type of coverage you can obtain. For instance, the state you live in and the amount of years you’ve worked will affect your coverage. Pre-existing medical conditions may also impact your ability to purchase Medicare coverage.

When to enroll

Medicare’s Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the three months prior to your 65th birthday through three months after your birth date. Medicare recipients with disabilities have a different IEP centered around the date they became disabled. It’s important to note that you may have to pay extra fees to enroll if you do so outside of your IEP period, so plan ahead of time if you are wondering about this type of insurance.

Some people find their circumstances change, and they need to alter their Medicare plan or subscribe at a time outside of their IEPs. Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) allow retired people who opt out of their previous employer’s health care or union plan to take advantage of Medicare benefits regardless of the time of year. People who move away from the coverage area their original health care providers were based in may also be eligible for an SEP.

What Medicare can cover

AARP says that Medicare health coverage can pay for hospital and doctor bills. If you need medication, you will have to purchase additional Medicare prescription coverage. Medicare does not cover premiums, copays, deductibles, dental, vision or hearing care. It also will not pay for long-term nursing care. According to eHealth Medicare, this insurance covers certain medical conditions, like Lou Gehrig’s disease, but does not include all diseases and health care issues, so be sure any health problems you deal with are covered prior to Medicare enrollment.

Medicare is divided into four parts, A through D, each of which offers different coverage. Policyholders often combine the parts for the best option for his or her individual care. Here is a quick breakdown of each part:

  • Medicare Part A covers hospital insurance, some nursing care, home health care services and hospice.
  • Medicare Part B provides medical insurance for expenses like health screenings, blood tests and imaging.
  • Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is offered by private insurance companies and is considered a package. It often includes prescription drug coverage and can lower the cost of deductibles.
  • Medicare Part D is an extra plan that covers medicine costs. It is optional but very beneficial to individuals who need a lot of prescription medications, such as those with chronic illnesses like diabetes.

For more information about insurance options, visit Medicare.gov.