Everything You Need to Know About Medicare

by Nancy

Medicare is a program for medical insurance for those that are disabled or retired in the United States. Some participants are only covered by a single part of Medicare while others pay extra to receive more coverage.

A better understanding of Medicare can help you to save money in the long run. Here is some general information about the Medicare program to help you make the best decision possible.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the United States health insurance program for those that are 65 and older. Anyone younger than 65 with certain disabilities or diseases can also qualify. This program is meant to help with the costs of healthcare although it doesn’t cover all of the medical expenses and costs of long-term care. You have different choices or how you can get covered by Medicare. If you choose the original coverage, you can purchase a Medicare supplement policy, also called Medigap, from private insurance companies to help cover some of the costs that Medicare doesn’t. A part of the taxes paid by workers and employers helps cover Medicare expenses. The monthly premiums are usually deducted from Social Security checks covering a portion of the costs.

The Four Parts of Medicare

Medicare has four distinct parts:

  • Medicare Part A is used to help pay for inpatient care either at a hospital or a skilled nursing facility. It is also able to help you pay for home health care as well as hospice care.
  • Medicare Part B is used to help pay for services from doctors as well as outpatient care, health care providers, durable medical equipment, home health care,
    and some preventive services.
  • Medicare Part C includes all of the benefits and services that are covered under both Medicare Part A and Part B. Some of these plans also include Medicare prescription drug coverage as well as other services.
  • Medicare Part D is used to help pay for prescription drugs.

Who Can Get Top Medicare Plans?

People 65 and older and are citizens or permanent United States residents are eligible for this part of Medicare. You are entitled to Part A at the age of 65 at no cost if:

  • You are eligible or receive Social Security benefits.
  • You are eligible or receive railroad retirement benefits.
  • Your spouse is eligible or receives Social Security benefits or railroad retirement benefits.
  • You or your spouse has worked long enough at a government job that you paid Medicare taxes.
  • You are the parent of a fully insured child that is now deceased.

If you don’t meet any of the requirements above, you might be able to receive Medicare Part A by paying a premium monthly. You can usually pay for this coverage during designated enrollment periods.

You can also be eligible for Part A at no cost before you are 65 if:

  • You have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for 2 years.
  • The railroad retirement board has issued you a disability pension, and you meet certain other conditions.
  • You receive Social Security disability benefits for having Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • You have worked long enough for the government and paid Medicare taxes and have been entitled to Social Security benefits for two years.
  • You are 50 or older, and the child, widow, or divorced widow of someone who worked at a government job where they paid Medicare taxes and you meet the requirements stated by the Social Security disability program

Medicare Part B

Anyone eligible for free Medicare Part A can enroll in Part B by paying a premium. Some individuals with higher incomes will have to pay a higher monthly premium. You can also buy Part B without buying Part A if you are 65 or older and a United States citizen. There is a designated enrollment period or signing up or Medicare Part B.

Medicare Part C

If you get your benefits from a private company or a Medicare Advantage organization, then you have Medicare Part C. These plans provide extra coverage and lower your costs. This helps cover many things that a Medigap policy would cover. Extra benefits include more days in the hospital than Medicare covers. You will have a health care card and pay a monthly premium for these additional benefits.

Medicare Part D

Those eligible for Part A and Part B are eligible for Part D. This is prescription drug coverage. It is voluntary to join, and you pay a monthly premium for this coverage. This information should help you to figure out the difference between the Medicare parts and allow you to choose for yourself which program is best for you. Contact your local Social Security office to discuss these options in more detail.