Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older, as well as people with certain disabilities. It is a social insurance program, meaning that it is funded by payroll taxes paid by current workers.
It is divided into four parts:
- Part A: Hospital insurance. Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some home health care. Most people are eligible for Part A premium-free if they have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters.
- Part B: Medical insurance. Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Most people pay a monthly premium for Part B.
- Part C: Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies and provide an alternative to Original Medicare (Parts A and B). Medicare Advantage plans typically offer a wider range of benefits than Original Medicare, such as prescription drug coverage, dental and vision coverage, and fitness benefits.
- Part D: Prescription drug coverage. Part D is a voluntary program that helps cover the cost of prescription drugs. Most people who enroll in Part D pay a monthly premium.
Medicare is a complex program, but it is important to understand your options so that you can choose the coverage that is best for you.
Here are some additional things to know about Medicare:
- Eligibility: Most people are eligible for Medicare at age 65. However, people with certain disabilities and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) may also be eligible for Medicare at a younger age.
- Enrollment: You can enroll in Medicare online, by phone, or by mail. The Medicare enrollment period starts three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after your birthday.
- Costs: Medicare has a variety of costs, including premiums, deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. The costs you pay will depend on which part of Medicare you have and which plan you choose.
- Benefits: Medicare covers a wide range of health care services, including preventive care, doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, and more. However, Medicare does not cover everything. For example, Medicare does not cover long-term care services, such as a nursing home.
If you have questions about Medicare, you can contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Medicare website at https://www.medicare.gov/.
Here are some tips for choosing the right Medicare plan for you:
- Consider your needs and budget. When choosing a Medicare plan, it is important to consider your individual needs and budget. Think about the types of services you are most likely to use and how much you can afford to pay in premiums and other costs.
- Compare plans. There are many different Medicare plans available, so it is important to compare them before making a decision. You can compare plans online, by phone, or by mail.
- Talk to a Medicare counselor. A Medicare counselor can help you understand your options and choose the best plan for your needs. You can find a Medicare counselor in your area by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).