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What Is Medicare?

Medicare is a national health insurance program for people of 65 and above and some persons with disabilities. If you or your spouse has worked full-time for 10 or more years, you’re probably eligible to get Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) for free. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) is available at a monthly rate set annually by Congress. Some seniors are eligible to get the medical insurance portion (Part B) free as well, depending on their asset levels and income.

How Does Medicare Work?

Medicare is two separate types of insurance—medical and hospital. It’s not intended to cover all your medical expenses. Hospital insurance (Part A of Medicare) covers medical treatment and surgical procedures performed in a hospital. It also covers home health, hospital and limited skilled nursing care. Medical insurance (Part B of Medicare) covers part of the cost of outpatient care, doctor bills, medical equipment and diagnostic tests. With the Medicare modernization act of 2003, Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Medicare Part D (Prescription Coverage) also became available, through private insurance companies.

How Do I Get Medicare?

If you’re getting social security benefits before turning 65, you should automatically get notification of your enrollment in Medicare before your 65th birthday. Other individuals must apply by visiting or calling their social security office to receive Medicare.  

Comparing and Contrasting Medicare Plans

There are thousands of plans available throughout the United States, and an average of 40 Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans in any given area. This is where a Medicare consultant can come in handy. With many available options, choosing a plan might feel like throwing darts at a board. Using a Medicare advisor can help you narrow down your choices, so you know which combination of Medicare coverage will work best for you.

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