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Medicare Basics

Is it time to start thinking about Medicare?

If you’re approaching 65 and you’ve started thinking about retirement, you’ve come to the right place. We can help you understand the Medicare basics, choose the right plan, and enroll in a Medicare plan.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are at least 65 years old. People under 65 who suffer from certain disabilities and illnesses, like end-stage renal failure, can also get Medicare. This insurance helps people pay for things like hospital stays, hospice care, and more. Highmark contracts with the federal government to provide additional Medicare insurance plans to help people pay for other health care expenses that are not covered by the government.


Medicare can be broken down into 4 basic parts – parts A, B, C, D plus Medigap. Some have a few names: Medicare parts A and B are often called Original Medicare, part C is called Medicare Advantage, and Medigap can be called Medicare Supplement. Each Medicare part pays for different things, like hospital bills or prescriptions. Visit our Medicare Parts page to learn more about what each Medicare plan type is used forand how to find the best option.

Medicare star ratings

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on 5-star rating system. These ratings tell you how well a health plan performs overall — the higher the rating, the better the care. When a plan receives 5 stars, a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is created. This SEP gives you the opportunity to switch from your current plan to a 5-star plan anytime before November 30.

Our members helped us to achieve 5-star rated plans in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York for 2023.

Click below for more details on these top-rated plans.


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While most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65, there are some exceptions. We can help you understand who is eligible for Medicare insurance and when.

We’ll go over the basic costs associated with the different health insurance plans and help you find programs that can help make your Medicare costs more manageable.


Caring for somebody is hard enough. But trying to manage that person’s health insurance or Medicare adds a new set of problems. We can help you navigate these challenges.

If you still have questions, you can probably find the answers on our Frequently Asked Questions page.