The health care landscape in America is ever-changing and often confusing. It’s hard to know exactly what health insurance covers, eligibility requirements, how to access government subsidies and even when to pay penalties.

The good news is that in Memphis, there are a variety of community resources and agencies committed to helping seniors navigate the health care options available to them and assisting them in choosing the coverage that best fits their needs. In addition to providing affordable healthcare to working uninsured people, Church Health provides Medicare enrollment assistance to the community through its Healthcare Advisory Team.

Before you enroll or help someone else enroll in Medicare, it’s important to clearly understand the options available to you in your golden years.

What, exactly, is Medicare?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities and people with End-Stage Renal Disease.

How do I enroll in Medicare?

Generally, if you are collecting social security, you will be automatically enrolled when you turn 65. This initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month, and ends three months after your birthday.

The open enrollment period for Medicare health and prescription drug plans ends Dec.7. During this period, you can make a change to your Medicare coverage. A Special Enrollment period is also available to those who meet special requirements.

Medicare Parts A & B – Demystified

What exactly is the difference between Medicare Part A & Part B? Part A helps cover your inpatient hospital care and the care you receive when you are already sick. It also includes skilled nursing facilities and hospice.

Part B, on the other hand, covers well and preventive care. Routine check-ups with your physician are the types of expenses covered under Part B.

So, what’s the Medicare Advantage Plan?

Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, makes it possible for people with Medicare Part A and Part B to receive their Medicare benefits in an alternative way. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies contracted with Medicare and provide at least the same level of coverage that Medicare Part A and Part B provide.

And what about supplemental coverage?

Medicare Parts A & B only cover 80% of the costs for Medicare-covered services. That means that if you are hospitalized and leave with a bill of $10,000, Medicare will cover $8,000 of the expenses, leaving you to pay $2,000 out of pocket. Additionally, Medicare does not include basic prescription drug coverage. Supplemental coverage, including Medicare Supplement (Medigap) and Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D), can help bridge these cost gaps.

If you are in need of information about supplemental plans or if you need assistance enrolling in these plans, Church Health can help you. Please call our Healthcare Advisory Team at 901-272-7526 to speak one-on-one with someone about the health care options available to you.

Emily Austin is a Communications Coordinator at Church Health. Founded in 1987, Church Health is a charitably funded, faith-based not-for-profit that provides comprehensive, high-quality, affordable health care to working uninsured people and their families and gives people tools to live healthier lives. Learn more about us at

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