Medicare Glossary: Important Terms, Definitions, and Acronym

Medicare Glossary: Important Terms, Definitions, and Acronym

Unlock the complexities of health insurance with our “Medicare Glossary: Understanding Key Terms” – your guide to mastering Medicare.


Medicare Glossary: Understanding Key Terms

Navigating Medicare can feel like learning a new language. With our “Medicare Glossary: Understanding Key Terms,” we aim to simplify this process. This guide breaks down the most important terminology you’ll encounter.


What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program in the U.S. It primarily serves people over 65, younger individuals with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease. Understanding its parts is crucial.


Parts of Medicare


Enrollment Periods

  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): A 7-month period around your 65th birthday to sign up for Medicare.

  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP): Time outside the regular enrollments to sign up due to specific life events.

  • General Enrollment Period (GEP): From January 1 to March 31 each year, if you missed your IEP.


Premiums, Deductibles, and Co-pays

  • Premium: The monthly cost to be part of Medicare.

  • Deductible: The amount you pay for health care before Medicare starts to pay its share.

  • Co-pay: A fixed amount you pay for a covered health care service after you’ve paid your deductible.


Coverage Options

Understanding your coverage options is vital. It helps decide what plan suits your health needs and financial situation best.


Out-of-Pocket Costs

These costs are not covered by Medicare and must be paid by you. They include deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments for covered services.


Medigap (Medicare Supplement Insurance)

Medigap plans are sold by private companies to help pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.


Medicare Advantage Plans

These are an “all in one” alternative to Original Medicare. They often include Part D and extra benefits. Understanding their network restrictions is crucial.


Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D)

If you have Original Medicare, you might add a Part D plan for drug coverage. It’s essential to check if your drugs are covered under the plan you consider.


Medicare Savings Programs (MSP)

These programs help pay Medicare Part A and Part B premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for low-income individuals.


Here are some additional key terms related to Medicare:

  • Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

    Also known as the Annual Election Period, this is when you can enroll in or switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.

  • Benefit period

    This begins when you enter a hospital or skilled nursing facility and ends after 60 consecutive days.

  • Catastrophic coverage

    This helps protect against high out-of-pocket costs that exceed a certain amount.

  • Coinsurance

    This is the percentage you pay of covered expenses after meeting your deductible.

  • Deductible

    This is the fixed amount you pay before Medicare or other insurance starts paying for your medical care and services.


    This includes durable medical equipment, prosthetic devices, braces, surgical dressings, and therapeutic shoes.

  • Extra Help

    This is a program that helps people with limited income and resources.

  • Formulary

    This is a list of covered prescription drugs that an insurance plan offers.

  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

    This is a seven-month period that begins three months before you turn 65, including your birthday month, and ends three months after. During this time, you can enroll in Original Medicare, a Medicare prescription drug plan, or a Medicare Advantage plan.

  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

    This is a type of Medicare Advantage plan that works with a set network of providers. However, you can go outside your network if you’re willing to pay higher copayment or coinsurance amounts.

  • Urgently needed services

    This is care provided to treat a non-emergency, unforeseen medical illness, injury, or condition that requires immediate medical care.

The Importance of Health Care Needs Assessment

Before deciding on a health insurance plan, assess your health care needs. Consider your current health, prescription needs, and preferred doctors.

Navigating the Medicare maze is daunting. But understanding these key terms transforms a confusing process into manageable steps. Armed with this glossary, you’re better equipped to make informed decisions about your Medicare coverage.

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