To qualify, you must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B and live in the desired Part C plan’s service area.

Medicare Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, is offered by a private insurance company approved by Medicare.

You don’t need to buy a Medicare Part C plan. It’s an alternative to original Medicare that offers additional items and services. Some of these include prescription drugs, dental, vision, and many others.

To be eligible for a Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan:

  • You must be enrolled in Original Medicare (Parts A and B).
  • You must live in the service area of a Medicare Advantage insurance provider offering the coverage/price you want and accepting new users during your enrollment period.

To enroll in Original Medicare (to be eligible for Part C), in general, you must qualify by:

  • Age: You must be at least 65 or older and a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident for at least 5 contiguous years.
  • Disability: If you’ve received monthly Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) disability benefits for 24 months, you’re eligible for Original Medicare. If you’re a disabled federal, state, or local government employee who’s not eligible for monthly Social Security or RRB benefits, you may be deemed entitled to disability benefits and automatically entitled to Part A after being disabled for 29 months.
  • ALS: If you’ve received a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), you become eligible for Medicare immediately upon collecting Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits (5 months following the classification of “disabled”).
  • ESRD: If you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), you’re eligible for Medicare with coverage that could start as soon as your first month of dialysis treatment.

Enrollment in Medicare is time-sensitive and should be started roughly three months before you turn 65.

You can also apply for Medicare in the month you turn 65 and the three months following your 65th birthday, although your coverage will be delayed.

If you miss the initial enrollment period, Medicare’s open enrollment period is another chance to sign up for a Medicare plan. This period runs from October 15 through December 7 every year.

Finally, there’s also the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period, which runs from January 1 to March 31 each year. However, this period only allows you to change your plan if you’re already enrolled in one.

These plans combine your original Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) with Medicare Part B (medical insurance).

Often, they also include Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) and other benefits, such as vision and dental coverage.

There are many different companies offering Medicare Advantage plans. Each offers different levels of coverage and monthly premiums. Many are Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs).

These plans will replace Medicare parts A and B while offering a minimum of all the benefits these parts provide as required by law.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plans are an optional alternative to original Medicare.

To qualify for Medicare Part C, you must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B and live in the desired Medicare Advantage plan’s service area.

Read this article in Spanish.