Medicare – Overview

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the federal government’s health insurance program for people age 65 or older.  Certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare too, including those who have disabilities and those who have permanent kidney failure or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  The program helps with the cost of health care, but it does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care.

Medicare has four parts:

  • Medicare Part A – Hospital insurance that helps pay for patient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay), some home health care and hospice care.
  • Medicare Part B – Medical insurance that helps pay for doctors’ services and many other medical services and supplies that are not covered by hospital insurance.
  • Medicare Part C – Medicare Advantage plans are available in many areas.  They are private insurance plans offered by organizations that contract with Medicare.  People with Medicare Parts A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through one of these contracted organizations under Medicare Part C.
  • Medicare Part D – Prescription drug coverage that helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for treatment.

For full details, please contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at 1-800-MEDICARE or www.cms.gov.