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Dec. 7, 2021, 9:52 a.m. EST

Enrolling in Medicare? Here are 6 things you need to know

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Dalia Ramirez

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5. Medicare Advantage can bundle your health care

Medicare Advantage plans , also known as Medicare Part C, are Medicare-approved plans from private insurance companies that bundle your Part A and Part B coverage with other benefits. This is usually prescription drug coverage, but Medicare Advantage plans can also include many vision, hearing and dental benefits that Original Medicare does not.

Medicare Advantage plans are all-in-one, more like traditional insurance, but they come with less flexibility. You may pay lower out-of-pocket costs for most services, but higher fees if you want to see a specialist out of your network. Depending on your location and individual health care needs, this may be a good option.

6. It’s complicated, but there are resources to help

“People are often shocked at the cost,” says Katy Votava, president of Goodcare.com, who has a doctorate in health economics and nursing. She explains that Medicare enrollment is often more complicated than a one-time sign-up: It requires ongoing choices and changes for many patients. According to Votava, the right Medicare combination heavily depends on what medications you take and what health care providers you see, as well as your location and income.

See: Signing up for Medicare? Watch out for IRMAA

Votava recommends looking into the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, at  shiphelp.org  to find free Medicare community educational services near you. SHIP can help you figure out what financial support you qualify for depending on your income level, region and state, and assist you — or the parent you care for — with enrollment when your window opens.

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Dalia Ramirez writes for NerdWallet. Email: dramirez@nerdwallet.com.

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