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How to Use Medicare.gov (2021 Update)

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published April 29, 2021 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

Medicare.gov makes it simple to find Medicare plans in your area.

By filling out a brief questionnaire, you can see a list of Medicare options that may work for you. Below, we explore some of the questions you'll be asked and explain how to enroll.

A woman wearing glasses uses her computerLearn how to navigate Medicare.gov and find the Medicare information you need.

Exploring Your Medicare Options

Medicare.gov, the official website of Medicare, is a helpful and comprehensive resource with a wide range of Medicare information.

When you visit Medicare.gov to find a plan, you will be asked several questions to help determine your options. Some of the questions you'll be asked are listed below.

  1. What is your zip code?

  2. Do you currently have Medicare?

  3. Do you get help from Medicare or your state to pay your Medicare prescription drug costs?

  4. What prescription drugs are you currently taking?

  5. What pharmacy do you typically use to get your prescription drugs filled?

Answering these questions will help determine what kind of Medicare plans could be a good option for you.

How to Navigate Medicare.gov

There is a range of detailed information on Medicare.gov that can help you zero in on the best plan for your needs.

These features can be found in the blue horizontal menu bar near the top of the page, and they include: 

  • Getting started with Medicare
    Learn about the different parts of Medicare, when to enroll and how to select your coverage.

  • Your Medicare coverage choices
    This section outlines the five types of Medicare coverage: Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C), Prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D) and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap).

  • How do I get Part A and B?
    Learn about the various enrollment circumstances and the steps you’ll need to follow for enrolling in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).

  • Apply for Medicare online
    Clicking here will take you directly to the Social Security Administration website where you can enroll in Original Medicare.

  • How to get drug coverage
    Learn about the different ways to get Medicare prescription drug coverage, and find out how to drop or switch a Medicare drug plan.

  • When can I join a health or drug plan?
    See how and when you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D plan for the first time.

  • Types of Medicare health plans
    See a list of facts and helpful information about Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Cost plans and other types of Medicare health plans. 

  • Find health and drug plans
    Select this option if you are ready to visit the Medicare Plan Finder and begin searching for coverage near you. 

  • Check your enrollment
    Use this option to safely access your Medicare information directly from the CMS.

  • Find doctors, hospitals and facilities
    Find and compare doctors, hospitals and other facilities that accept Medicare.  

  • Get help paying costs
    View a list of resources that provide help with Medicare costs such as Medicaid, Medicare Savings Programs, Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, Extra Help and more.

  • Part A costs
    See up-to-date Part A costs including premiums,  deductibles and coinsurance.

  • Part B costs
    Find out what you’d pay for Part B including your deductible and coinsurance and whether or not the income-related monthly adjusted amount (IRMAA) will apply to your Medicare Part B premiums.

  • Cost for Medicare drug coverage
    Gather information on Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plan) costs and the Medicare Extra Help program.

  • Costs for Medicare health plans
    Learn about the costs associated with Medicare Advantage plans.

  • Ways to pay Part A and Part B premiums
    Here you can learn about the different ways to pay your Original Medicare premiums according to your circumstances.

  • Costs at a glance
    See a quick and condensed version of basic Medicare costs.

  • Is my test, item or service covered?
    Use this handy search tool to see if any particular service, item or test is covered by Medicare and how.

  • Your Medicare coverage choices
    See an outline of your different Medicare coverage options.

  • What Part A covers
    Learn what Medicare Part A covers.

  • What Part B covers
    Find details about what Part B covers.

  • What drug plans cover
    Find out what types of drugs are covered by Medicare plans and how.

  • What Medicare health plans cover
    Learn more about the different types of Medicare Advantage plans and the benefits they offer.

  • Preventive and screening services
    This takes you to the search tool where you can see if specific preventive services are covered by Medicare.

  • Find suppliers of medical equipment and supplies
    Access a searchable directory of durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers based on your zip code.

  • Find doctors, hospitals and facilities
    Search and compare hospitals, nursing homes, home health services, doctors, health professionals, long-term care hospitals and more.

  • What’s not covered by Part A and Part B?
    View a list of some services and items that are not covered by Original Medicare.

  • Costs for Medicare drug coverage
    See a list of common Medicare drug plan costs.

  • How Part D works with other insurance.
    Learn how Medicare Part D works with other types of insurance such as employer insurance, union, COBRA, food stamps, Medicaid, Veteran’s benefits and more. 

  • How Medicare works with other insurance
    Get an explanation for how Medicare works as a primary or secondary payer, conditional payments and other information about the coordination of coverage.

  • Retiree insurance
    Learn about retiree insurance coverage options. 

  • What’s Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)?
    Read up on Medicare Supplement Insurance including what it covers and how to enroll.

  • Find a Medigap policy
    Use this tool to search for Medigap plans in your area.

  • When can I buy Medigap?
    Find out when you can enroll in Medigap and see detailed information about Medigap enrollment periods.

  • How to compare Medigap policies
    See a chart that illustrates the standardized Medigap benefits and compare Medigap plans.

  • Medigap and travel
    Learn how Medigap can cover emergency care administered outside of the U.S. 

  • File a complaint
    Find out how to file a complaint with Medicare about a health care provider, your plan or other aspects of your Medicare coverage.

  • File a claim
    Learn the steps you’ll need to take if you ever have to file a Medicare claim yourself.

  • File an appeal
    Learn how to file an appeal and what the Medicare appeal process entails.

  • Your right to a fast appeal
    Read a statement on Medicare appeals and your rights as a beneficiary.

  • Check the status of a claim
    Directions are provided here about how to check the status of a Medicare claim.

  • Your Medicare rights
    Educate yourself about your rights and protections as a Medicare beneficiary.

  • Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information
    This takes you to a form that authorizes Medicare to disclose your personal health information to a third party.

  • Log in to MyMedicare.gov
    Log in to your personal Medicare portal.

  • Medicare forms
    Use this guide to find any Medicare forms you may need. 

  • Advance directives and long-term care
    Advance directives are instructions on how you wish medical decisions will be made on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. Learn how to put these directives into place and how they work.

  • Electronic prescribing
    This explains how prescribers can electronically send your prescriptions straight to a pharmacy for pickup.

  • Electronic Health Records (EHR)
    Find out which information about your health may be kept on a computer.

  • Download claims with Medicare’s Blue Button
    Learn how to use the Medicare Blue Button to download your personal health information and link it to other programs and applications.  

  • Coordinating your care
    Learn about Medicare’s coordinated care programs. 

Types of Medicare Plans

There are two main types of Medicare plans: Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

Original Medicare

Original Medicare is managed by the federal government and consists of two parts: Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. 

  • Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) covers inpatient care received in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

  • Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers preventive care, durable medical equipment, lab tests, and medically necessary doctors' services.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) are sold by private insurers. By law, they must provide at least the same basic benefits as Original Medicare, but many include additional benefits such as dental, vision or prescription drug coverage. 

One downside to Medicare Advantage, however, is that some plans require you to stay within a specific network. 

Find Health Care Providers in Your Area

If you are curious about health care services in your area, you can find providers by using some of the following Medicare.gov resources:

  • Find physicians and other health care providers

  • Find and compare hospitals

  • Find and compare nursing homes

There are a number of other services you can find in your area using Medicare.gov, including inpatient rehab facilities and dialysis centers. Be sure to explore the site to find everything you need relating to your Original Medicare coverage.

Enrolling in Medicare 

You should enroll in Medicare as soon as you're first eligible. For many people, this is during your Medicare initial enrollment period. Your initial enrollment period is a seven-month period that begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes your birthday month, and extends three months after your 65th birthday. 

If you do not enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period, you could experience delays in coverage or have to pay a late penalty. 

If you have a qualifying disability or medical condition, you may be eligible for Medicare benefits before you turn 65. 

To enroll in Medicare, visit your local Social Security office or call them at 1-800-772-1213.

Plan for Out-of-Pocket Costs

While Original Medicare covers a number of health care costs for millions of Americans, it still leaves behind some out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copays, coinsurance and other fees. These costs can add up quickly and can be difficult to predict.

Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are sold by private insurance companies to help cover some of Medicare's out-of-pocket costs. There are 10 standardized Medigap plans available in most states, and each type of plan offers a different combination of basic benefits.

Compare the basic benefits of all 10 standardized plans using the chart below.

You can use the 2020 Medigap plan chart below to compare the benefits that are offered by each type of plan. Use the scroll bar at the bottom of the chart to view all plans and information.

Click here to view enlarged chart

Scroll to the right to continue reading the chart

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Medicare Supplement Benefits

Part A coinsurance and hospital coverage

Part B coinsurance or copayment

Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment

First 3 pints of blood

Skilled nursing facility coinsurance

Part A deductible

Part B deductible

Part B excess charges

Foreign travel emergency

Medicare Supplement Benefits A B C* D F1* G1 K2 L3 M N4
Part A coinsurance and hospital coverage
Part B coinsurance or copayment 50% 75%
Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment 50% 75%
First 3 pints of blood 50% 75%
Skilled nursing facility coinsurance 50% 75%
Part A deductible 50% 75% 50%
Part B deductible
Part B excess charges
Foreign travel emergency 80% 80% 80% 80% 80% 80%

* Plan F and Plan C are not available to Medicare beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020. If you became eligible for Medicare before 2020, you may still be able to enroll in Plan F or Plan C as long as they are available in your area.

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1 Plans F and G offer high-deductible plans that each have an annual deductible of $2,370 in 2021. Once the annual deductible is met, the plan pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the year. The high-deductible Plan F is not available to new beneficiaries who became eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020.

2 Plan K has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $6,220 in 2021. After you pay the out-of-pocket yearly limit and yearly Part B deductible, it pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year.

3 Plan L has an out-of-pocket yearly limit of $3,110 in 2021. After you pay the out-of-pocket yearly limit and yearly Part B deductible, it pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year.

4 Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to $50 copayment for emergency room visits that don’t result in an inpatient admission.

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Speak With a Licensed Agent

Learn more about your Medicare coverage options by calling to speak with a licensed agent today.

Compare Medigap plans in your area.

Find a Medigap plan

Or call 1-800-995-4219 to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

Resource Center

Compare Medigap Plans 2021

See how the 10 Medigap plans differ. Review our chart for a detailed comparison of Medicare Supplement insurance benefits and compare Medigap options where you live. Read more
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