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Medicare is a Federal health insurance program for people 65 years or older, younger people with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) which is permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant.

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) helps cover your inpatient care in hospitals. Part A also helps cover skilled nursing facility, hospice, and home health care if you meet certain conditions.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) helps cover medically-necessary services like doctors’ services and outpatient care. Part B also helps cover some preventive services to help maintain your health and to keep certain illnesses from getting worse. 

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) is another way to get your Medicare benefits. It combines Part A, Part B, and, sometimes, Part D (prescription drug) coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans are managed by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. These plans must cover medically-necessary services. However, plans can charge different copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles for these services.

Medicare Part D (Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage) helps cover prescription drugs. This coverage may help lower your prescription drug costs and help protect against higher costs in the future.

With Medicare, you can choose how you get your health and prescription drug coverage. You have the following options:

The Original Medicare Plan, managed by the Federal government, provides your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. You are usually charged a fee for each health care service or supply you get. If you are in the Original Medicare Plan, you can add drug coverage (Part D). These plans are run by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. You can also choose to buy a Medigap (Medicare Supplement Insurance) policy to help fill the gaps in Part A and Part B coverage.

Medicare Advantage Plans (like an HMO or PPO) are another way to get Medicare benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans are health plan options approved by Medicare and run by private companies. If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage, like a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plan or some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, you may be able to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

Other Medicare Plans are plans that aren’t Medicare Advantage Plans, but are still part of the Medicare Program. Other Medicare health plans include Medicare Cost Plans, Demonstrations/Pilot Programs, and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). These plans provide Part A and Part B coverage, and some also provide Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage).  

If you have questions about your eligibility for Medicare, or if you want to apply for Medicare, call the Social Security Administration or visit their website at www.SSA.gov/medicare. The toll-free telephone number is: 1-800-772-1213. The TTY-TDD number for the hearing and speech impaired is 1-800-325-0778.

Source: Medicare.gov