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I need some overview - big picture of the medicare system. My mother is 83 and has been for several years paying for an Independent Health insurance coverage - it was plan called Advantage PPO. Now, they informed her that monthly coverage was going from $100 to $160 month. So, she went to one of these free information meetings put on by the insurance company and a representative told her that she did not need to pay any monthly premium. So she signed up for a policy that has $0 dollars monthly premiums. Hospital stays have a $700 deductible (max 3 ?). This does not sound logical. Some other items that I am confused on are listed below -

I need a big picture - all the internet stuff talks details that is getting me all wrapped around the axial.

Here are some of the items I am confused on:

1. I understand that Medicare has parts A, B, C, D. Everyone is in part A and part B costs about $100 / month that is automatically deducted from the SS given to her. How does she know that she is covered by Medicare B ? Where does it show that the Gov takes the $100/month for Medicare B ? She worked a little in her life, but is under my fathers SS coverage.

2. Medigap coverage - I see the Gov has "plans" for Medigap coverage that are called Plan A, Plan B, etc... How come Independent Health calls the insurance she has been getting "Advantage PPO" ? What about Plan A, Plan B, etc... What is this, the Insurance companies do not call the policy they offer the same name as the Gov. plans ? OR has my mother NOT been getting Medigap but some other policy coverage ?

3. As I stated in the beginning - my mother was paying $100 / month that is going to $160 month in 2013. Now the insurance company has signed her up for $0 / month starting in 2013. I have never seen any company give something for FREE. Never ! McDonalds wants $0.10 for extra ketchup packets, Dunkin Donuts does not even give napkins when U buy a doughnut ! Why is the insurance company providing "coverage" for $0 / month ? What is the gimmick here ?

4. Can she change back to the other coverage plan next open enrollment period in 2013 for 2014 ? Or is she locked into this $0 / month plan ?

Thanks for any advice !

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