Medicare is a national health insurance program in the United States that is run by the federal government. It is primarily intended for people who are 65 years of age or older, as well as for certain younger people with disabilities or end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant).
Medicare is divided into four parts:
- Part A: Hospital Insurance - Covers inpatient care in hospitals, hospice care, and skilled nursing facility care. It is generally provided at no cost to beneficiaries.
- Part B: Medical Insurance - Covers doctors' services, preventive care, lab tests, and medical equipment. Beneficiaries are typically responsible for paying a monthly premium and a yearly deductible.
- Part C: Medicare Advantage - This is an alternative way to receive your Medicare benefits, offered by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide the same benefits as Original Medicare, but they may offer additional benefits such as vision, hearing, and dental coverage.
- Part D: Prescription Drug Coverage - This is coverage for prescription drugs. Beneficiaries can purchase a stand-alone Part D plan or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage.
Medicare is financed by a combination of payroll taxes, premiums, and general revenue. Eligibility for Medicare is based on age, disability, or end-stage renal disease, and U.S. citizenship or legal permanent residency.