Medicare is a federal health insurance program designed for people who are 65 and older. Additionally, people with certain medical conditions or permanent disabilities can also benefit from this program.
Similar to Social Security, Medicare is an entitlement program that most US citizens become eligible for by working and paying taxes for a minimum period of time; which is typically 40 quarters (10 years). Most people join the Medicare program after turning 65 years old, or when they retire and leave their group health insurance.
“Original Medicare” consists of Part A and Part B. Together, they provide the foundation for your health insurance coverage.
Part A – This is commonly known as hospitalization insurance. This mostly covers the cost of your time in the hospital (inpatient care), skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, home health care, and more.
Part B – This helps cover your doctors visits and other services including: outpatient procedures, x-rays, lab tests, and preventative services.
“Medicare Advantage Plans” are known as Part C. This combines Part A and Part B coverage.
Part C – These plans are offered by private insurance carriers who have a contract with Medicare and are required to offer the same benefits as Original Medicare. You may enroll in this option to replace your “Original Medicare” (Part A and Part B).
Part D – This is your prescription drug coverage. This is offered to everyone with Medicare. Most Part C plans cover prescription drugs; however, you may be able to add drug coverage to some plans, if they are not already included.