Medicare is health insurance provided by the federal government. You qualify if you are 65 or older and eligible for Social Security benefits, disabled (regardless of age) and collecting Social Security benefits for 2 years, or on kidney dialysis (regardless of age).
Medicare is divided into parts. Part A covers care you get in a hospital or other facilities. For most people who qualify for Medicare, there is no premium for Part A. You will have to pay a deductible for each hospital stay. Also, for longer stays in a hospital or nursing home, you will have to pay coinsurance. Part B of Medicare covers doctor charges, lab fees, and other outpatient care. You pay a monthly premium for Part B. There is also a deductible for covered services and coinsurance. Part C is a combination of Parts A and B provided by private insurers. These private insurance companies must be approved by Medicare, and must provide all hospital and medical benefits covered by Medicare. These private insurers are called Medicare Advantage. They charge a monthly fee, and some include the Part D prescription medicine coverage. Part C is not available everywhere. Part D is optional. It helps pay for prescription medicines. If you join, you pay a monthly premium, which varies by plan, and a yearly deductible. You will also pay a part of the cost of your prescriptions, including a copayment or coinsurance. Costs vary based on which drug plan you choose.
Many people buy private supplemental insurance to pay for costs Medicare does not cover. This coverage is sometimes called Medigap. Some people join private managed care plans that offer Medicare services (Medicare Advantage Plans). Some private managed care plans offer other services like prescription medicines.
Medicare coverage can be very
confusing. This is especially true for Parts C and D options. It's best to talk with
an independent expert before buying a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medigap insurance.
Visit the Medicare website for information on how to select an insurance
package that fits your needs.