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Understanding Medicare and Medicare Advantage

Medicare is a national health insurance program in the United States, begun in 1966 under the Social Security Administration and now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It primarily provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older, but also for some people with disability status.

In 2020, Medicare will help more than 61 million people pay for everything from hospital stays to doctor visits to prescription drugs.

Then there is also Medicare Advantage, which is different than traditional Medicare. And now Medicare Advantage plans have the option of covering things that you would not normally think of when it comes to health insurance.

Understanding Medicare, Medicare Advantage and everything in between can be overwhelming, especially if you do not know where to go to get help and information. We have collected several resources to help get you started in learning more about the often-complicated health insurance programs.

A Guide to Choosing Health Coverage

AARP is a great resource for those 55 and older. AARP’s “Medicare Made Easy” guide covers a number of topics, including eligibility, costs, how to sign up, common mistakes and more, starting with “What is Medicare.”

Additionally, a recent article “The Big Choice: Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage”, details the differences in enrolling in federally run original Medicare and selecting a Medicare Advantage plan, the private insurance alternative.

Compare Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage

The Healthline website provides a useful resource to help you compare Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage, explore the differences between the two, and decide which one is better for your medical needs. This article on when to sign up for Medicare provides specific information about eligibility and the time frame for signing up.

There is a wealth of valuable information on the site that is meant to help older adults and their caregivers reduce stress and make informed decisions, plus each article is medically reviewed.

 Find a Medicare Advantage Plan is the official U.S. Government site. The website includes the latest information on Medicare enrollment, benefits, and other helpful tools, including how Medicare Advantage Plans work and what they cover.

Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies, and some plans are offering in-home support services for 2020. The benefit covers in-home aide for caregiver respite, home-based chores and activities of daily living (ADL) due to health issues not otherwise covered under any other Medicare benefit. These can include:

  • Assistance with bathing and showering
  • Assistance with dressing and grooming
  • Assistance with incontinence/bathroom assistance
  • Transferring or mobility assistance
  • Light housekeeping
  • Meal preparation
  • Medication reminders

At, you can also check the health plans in your area that are offering in-home support services by visiting the Medicare Advantage plan finder which allows you to search for a plan by zip code.

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