Maximizing Your Medicare Coverage

A Comprehensive Guide to Enhancing Benefits

by Dan Dankston

Medicare is a vital resource that assists in covering various healthcare needs, but it’s essential to recognize its limitations. Out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and premiums, coupled with coverage gaps in dental, vision, hearing, and long-term care, prompt the need for strategic planning to get the most out of your Medicare coverage. Here are key options to consider:

  1. Medicare Supplement (Medigap):
    • Medigap, a private insurance type, fills the gaps left by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).
    • It covers expenses such as deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and even foreign travel emergency care.
    • Plans are government-regulated, with varying costs and benefits based on the plan and the insurance company.
    • Utilize the online tool at or call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance in comparing different Medigap plans.
    • Note that having both Medigap and Medicare Advantage (Part C) simultaneously is not permissible; a choice between the two is required.
    • Monthly premiums for Medigap are in addition to the Part B premium.
  2. Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs):
    • State-operated programs designed to aid low-income individuals in covering Medicare-related expenses.
    • Four types of MSPs exist, each with distinct eligibility criteria and benefits: Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), Qualifying Individual (QI), and Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals (QDWI).
    • Application is through the state Medicaid agency.
    • Explore MSP options on or call 1-800-MEDICARE for guidance.
  3. Extra Help (Low-Income Subsidy):
    • Federal program aiding low-income individuals in covering Part D prescription drug costs, including premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.
    • Apply for Extra Help online at, by phone, or in person at a local Social Security office.
    • Automatic qualification if enrolled in Medicaid, MSP, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
    • Seek information on Extra Help at or call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance.
  4. Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs):
    • SNPs, a subset of Medicare Advantage (Part C), cater to individuals with specific health conditions such as diabetes, chronic heart failure, HIV/AIDS, or end-stage renal disease.
    • Encompass benefits from both Part A and Part B, often including Part D coverage and extra benefits like care coordination and wellness programs.
    • Costs and benefits vary by plan and location.
    • Utilize the online SNP comparison tool at or call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance.
    • Part B premium is necessary, in addition to any SNP premium.



To optimize your Medicare coverage, explore the diverse options available. Consulting with licensed insurance agents, Medicare counselors, or healthcare providers is crucial before making any decisions. Regularly review your coverage and make adjustments during the open enrollment period, from October 15 to December 7 each year. Stay informed by accessing resources online at or calling 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance. By strategically utilizing these options, you can enhance your Medicare benefits and ensure comprehensive coverage for your healthcare needs.


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