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Senior couple sitting on a couch and looking at a tablet, discuss signing up for Medicare Part C

How to Sign Up for Medicare Part C

Medicare Part A and Part B, also called Original Medicare, provide health insurance for millions of senior Americans. But what works for them might not be best for you. Some seniors need specialized services not covered by Original Medicare. Others want to pay lower premiums and deductibles than they would have with Part A and Part B. If that sounds like you, then a Part C plan could give you more control over your Medicare coverage.

What is Medicare Part C?

Sometimes called Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part C gives seniors another option when it comes to finding the right health insurance to fit their circumstances.


Part C plans are Medicare-approved insurance plans sold by private companies. They include the same benefits provided by Original Medicare, including hospitalization, doctor visits, medical supplies and screenings.


In addition, Part C plans often have lower out-of-pocket costs and extra benefits not covered by Original Medicare.

What does Medicare Part C cover?

Part C plans include the same medically necessary services covered by Original Medicare. They also may include extras like prescription drugs, fitness programs, transportation services and dental, hearing and vision care. That’s why Part C plans are sometimes called “all-in-one” or “bundled” plans.


You may pay less out of pocket with a Part C plan than with Original Medicare, and those costs will have a yearly cap for Part A and Part B services.


Unlike Original Medicare, which allows you to see any doctor who accepts Medicare, Part C plans may restrict you to using their network of providers. So, make sure the plan is available in your state and has doctors and hospitals near you. You can find and compare Medicare Advantage plans in your area by using Medicare’s Plan Finder.


Also, when looking for a plan, it’s good to have a list of your medications with dosages and an idea of the medical care you expect to receive in the coming year.


There are five general types of Medicare Advantage Plans:


  • Health Maintenance Organization
  • Preferred Provider Organization
  • Private Fee-for-Service Plan
  • Special Needs Plan
  • Medical Savings Account

How do I sign up for Medicare Advantage?

After you do your research and select a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can enroll in one of several ways:


  • Use the Plan Finder at Medicare.gov
  • Use the insurance plan’s website
  • Call the plan and ask to enroll
  • Call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE
  • Contact the plan and ask for a paper enrollment form


Where can I find a Medicare Advantage Plan?

You can find and compare Medicare Advantage plans in your area by using the Medicare’s Plan Finder.


You also can find Advantage Plans by searching the websites of insurance companies that provide them.

Why do I need Medicare Part C?

You aren’t required to enroll in Medicare Part C, but you might want to if a Part C plan meets your needs and circumstances better than Original Medicare.

How long do I have to sign up for Medicare Part C?

You have a seven-month window to enroll for the first time in any Medicare program. The enrollment period begins three months before you turn 65. After that, you can choose every year whether to enroll in a Part C plan, switch Part C plans or revert to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).


The Open Enrollment Period during which you can join, switch or drop a plan runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. If you already have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can join a different plan or switch to Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31.

How old do you need to be to sign up for Medicare Part C?

Generally, you have to be at least 65 to enroll in a Medicare Part C plan.

How long does it take to sign up for Medicare Part C?

As long as you join a plan during the Open Enrollment Period by December 7, your coverage will start on January 1.

What is the purpose of Medicare Part C?

Medicare Part C plans give seniors flexibility when choosing their health insurance. Some Part C plans have out-of-pocket expenses that are lower than those of Original Medicare. Other Part C plans offer benefits not covered by Part A and Part B, such as vision, hearing, dental and prescription drug coverage.

What is the difference between Part C and Part D Medicare plans?

Part D comprises supplemental insurance plans that only cover prescription drug costs, while Part C plans are an alternative to Original Medicare and include hospitalization and medical insurance, along with other benefits. Part C plans that cover prescription drugs often won’t allow you to enroll in a Part D plan at the same time. Doing so could result in you being switched to Original Medicare.

Is Medicare Part C deducted from Social Security?

You can elect to have the premium for a Part C plan deducted from your Social Security payment, but the deduction isn’t automatic. You have to contact your Part C provider to arrange the deduction.

Where can I find a primary care physician who accepts Medicare patients?

NewPrimaryCare.com™ can help you find a primary care doctor near you who accepts Medicare. What’s more, our partner providers practice value-based care, meaning Medicare rewards them for helping their patients get better. With a value-based care provider, you can expect quicker appointment scheduling, shorter waits at the doctor’s office and a meaningful connection with your physician.


Use our Find Your Doctor tool to search for and compare value-based care providers near you.