Medicare is a health insurance program sponsored by the federal government with different parts that cover specific services.

Parts of Medicare

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)

Part A covers care in a skilled nursing facility, specific home health care services, inpatient hospital stays, and hospice care. If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for a particular amount of time while working, you don’t have to pay a monthly premium for Part A (premium-free Part A). If you’re not eligible for premium-free Part A, you can buy it. The monthly premium is approximately $458.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)

Part B covers outpatient care, preventive services, specific doctors’ services, and medical supplies. Most people must pay the standard premium for Part B, which was $144.60 in 2020.

Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)

Part D covers the cost of prescription drugs, including many recommended vaccines or shots. 

What qualifies you for Medicare

Medicare is for:

– individuals 65 years or above

– certain younger people with disabilities

– people with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), which refers to permanent kidney failure that requires dialysis or a transplant

How Medicare works

Once you enroll, you must decide which of the two main ways you prefer for your Medicare coverage. These ways include:

Original Medicare

Medicare Part A and Part B constitute Original Medicare. As you get services, you pay for them. At the start of each year, you pay a deductible when you get services. You usually pay coinsurance, which is 20% of the cost of the Medicare-approved service. For drug coverage, you can add a separate Medicare Part D plan. 

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage is a bundled plan that includes Medicare Part A, Part B, and typically Part D. Most such plans usually offer benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as dental, hearing, vision, and the like. 

Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D)

Medicare drug coverage helps you pay for prescription drugs. To get Medicare Part D, you must sign up for a Medicare-approved plan offering drug coverage. Plans can vary in covering different prescription drugs and placing drugs in different tiers.