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The Basics of Medicare


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What is Medicare?

Medicare is health insurance for people age 65 or older, under 65 with certain disabilities, and any age with End-Stage Renal Disease(ESRD).  Medicare is structured into different parts to cover specific services if you meet certain conditions.

Medicare Part A

What is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A is often referred to as Hospital Insurance.  This part of Medicare covers inpatient care in the hospital, including long term care hospitals, skilled nursing facility costs (excluding custodial care or long term care), hospice care, and home health care.  You usually don’t pay a premium for Part A coverage as long as you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working.  Under special circumstances you may be able to buy Part A, if you are not eligible. 

Medicare Part B

What is Medicare Part B?

Medicare Part B is often referred to as Medical Insurance.  This part of Medicare helps coer doctors’ services and outpatient care, home health services, and other medical services.  It also helps cover some preventative services.  Most people pay the standard Part B premium, which is due on a monthly basis.  However, you may pay more or less than the standard premium based on your annual income.  If you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you may pay a late enrollment penalty.  There are some exceptions to this penalty requirement.

Medicare Part C

What is Medicare Part C?

Medicare Part C is a health coverage choice run by private companies approved by Medicare.  Some examples are HMO, POS, PPO, and PFFS type healthplans.  This health coverage choice includes Part A, Part B, and usually other coverage not always covered by Medicare including prescription drugs.

Medicare Part D

What is Medicare Part D?

Medicare Part D is often referred to as Prescription Drug Coverage.  This part of Medicare helps cover the cost of prescription drugs.  This coverage may help lower your prescription drug costs and help protect you against higher costs in the future.  People with limited income or resources may qualify for Extra Help in paying for their prescription drug coverage and drug costs.  If you don’t join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan when you are first eligible and you decide to join later, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty. 

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