Get to know the Medicare basics

Understanding Medicare can be a challenge, but we’re here to help you make sense of it and guide you through your options.

left arrow labeled "3 months", birthday cake labeled "65th birthday" and right arrow labeled "3 months"

Know when to enroll

Your Initial Enrollment Period is the time period you have to sign up for Medicare when you first become eligible, through either age or disability. You have a seven-month window to enroll in Medicare Parts A, B, C and D: the month you become eligible, the three months prior, and the three months after.

What is Medicare? How does Medicare work?

Medicare is a program administered by the federal government that provides health insurance options for people age 65 or older, or any age for those who qualify because of certain disabilities or medical conditions.

Medicare comes in four parts: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. When you hear or read about “Original Medicare,” this is referring to the benefits included in Part A and Part B. Because Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything, you can purchase additional coverage from private insurance companies like Regence to help protect yourself from high medical costs.

Medicare Part A

This part covers inpatient care at a hospital or skilled nursing facility, plus home health and hospice care.

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Medicare Part B

This part covers doctor visits, clinical lab services, outpatient services and preventive care.

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Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage)

This is a plan you can purchase to replace Original Medicare. It covers the same medical services as Parts A and B, but also includes prescription drug coverage on most plans and may offer additional benefits.

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Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)

This is a plan you can purchase if you’re enrolled in Original Medicare to cover prescription drugs. Covered drugs are assigned to tiers, and what you pay depends on which tier they fall into.

We’re here to help

If you have questions about Medicare or are interested in a Regence Medicare Advantage Retiree Group Plan, give us a call at 1-888-319-8904 (TTY: 711) from 8 a.m.–8 p.m. PT, Monday–Friday. From Oct. 1–March 31, we’re available 8 a.m.–8 p.m. PT, seven days a week. You can also email us at

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