What Is Medicare?
Medicare is a health insurance program for people who are age 65 and older, and for those under 65 people with certain medical conditions or receiving Social Security disability payments.
Medicare is run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Earning Your Medicare Benefit
Medicare is funded by your tax dollars. It’s an entitlement program, meaning that you paid for your Medicare benefits by working and paying taxes.
Anyone over 65 qualifies for Medicare based upon age.
You may also qualify for Medicare benefits based on your health if you have certain disabilities or are diagnosed with specific diseases.
Do You Qualify?
Generally, if you worked 40 quarters, (10 years) and are 65 or older, you should qualify for Medicare Part A premium free.
If you (or your spouse) didn’t work long enough to qualify for free Medicare Part A benefits, you may still receive Medicare Part A, but you will pay a premium for it based upon how many quarters you did work.
Medicare consists of four components called Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D.
Here’s a quick review of each component:
- Part A: Inpatient care and services at a hospital or skilled nursing facility.
- Part B: Outpatient care and services including doctor visits and some preventative care.
- Part C: Medicare insurance provided by private insurance companies. Called Medicare Advantage, Part C contains all of the benefits of Part A and Part B and generally includes Part D along with other services.
- Part D: Prescription drug coverage for medicines prescribed by your doctor.
Part A and Part B together are sometimes called original Medicare or traditional Medicare.
In addition, you may also purchase Medicare supplement insurance, sometimes called Medigap insurance. Private insurance companies offer Medicare supplemental insurance to help you pay expenses not fully covered by Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
Let’s look a little closer at each of these Medicare parts.