Medicare Basics: 11 Things You Need to Know

Medicare basics include Parts A, B and D, Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans and more. We sort out the confusion.

Happy healthcare worker or caregiver visiting senior woman indoors at home, measuring blood pressure.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Understanding Medicare basics may be one of the most maddening tasks you'll face when heading into retirement. Figuring out when to enroll in Medicare and which parts of Medicare to elect can be daunting even for the savviest retirees. 

There are Part A, Part B, Part D, Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans and so on. And what the heck is a doughnut hole, anyway? Medicare open enrollment runs from October 15 through Dec. 7 every year. You should understand the basics before you make any changes.

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Managing Editor, Kiplinger's Retirement Report

Siskos is an old hat with the Kiplinger brand. More than a decade ago, she spent eight years writing about personal finance for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, including a monthly column—Starting Out—that served young adults. That was in her salad days. Now she's turned her attention to an audience she hopes to join in a decade or so: retirees. Siskos is the managing editor for Kiplinger's Retirement Report. In between, she broadened her personal-finance repertoire with real estate and investing stories at Old-House Journal, Investing Daily and U.S. News. She comes to Kiplinger by way of the Newseum, where she worked as an exhibit editor.

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