Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).
Medicare is divided into 4 different parts;
These parts are:
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care and hospice care. There is no monthly part A premium for most people who have 40 or more quarters of Social Security credits (about 10 years of full-time work with 4 quarters per year) and who are eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits.
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
Part B helps cover a portion of the Medicare approved costs (typically 80%) for outpatient medical services such as doctor visits, outpatient hospital care, lab tests, physical and speech therapy, some home health care, ambulance services, and some medical equipment and supplies. The monthly premium is $134.00 (in 2017) for beneficiaries with individual incomes of $85,000 or less.
Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans)
A Medicare Advantage Plan is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans include Health Maintenance Organizations, Preferred Provider Organizations, Private Fee-for-Service Plans, Special Needs Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare services are covered through the plan and aren’t paid for under Original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)
Part D is the federal government’s prescription drug program that covers both brand name and generic prescription drugs at participating pharmacies in your area. The coverage is available to all people eligible for Medicare, regardless of income and resources, health status, or current prescription expenses. Medicare prescription drug coverage provides protection for people who have very high drug costs.
Because prescription drugs can account for a large portion of your healthcare costs it is important to have Part D coverage.