Medicare – Overview

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant) 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), hospice care, and some home health care.
  • Medicare Part B – Medical insurance that helps pay for doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive services.
  • Medicare Part C – Medicare Advantage plans 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 Advantage may also include Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.
  • Medicare Part D – Prescription drug coverage that helps pay for medication prescribed by your doctor.

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