Medicare at a Glance

Medicare is an important health insurance program run by the federal government that provides for both hospital care (Medicare Part A), medical care (Medicare Part B) and since 2006 Medicare Part D – prescription insurance. People who are covered by Medicare and also have supplemental Medicare coverage are required to make it their primary insurance. 

Medicare Eligibility Rules

U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for Medicare benefits if they have worked for at least 10 years in a job that has paid money into the Medicare system. This eligibility rule also applies to your spouse, meaning that if either you or your spouse worked for 10 or more years and paid money into the Medicare system, then both of you are covered. You must be age 65 or older, unless you have a disability or permanent kidney failure.

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A is the terminology used for hospital insurance. This insurance helps to pay for hospital care, skilled nursing facilities, home health care and hospice care. Most people are eligible to receive Medicare Part A at age 65 and will receive this benefit without having to pay any monthly premiums.

Medicare Part B

This coverage is for doctor services, outpatient care and some of the other medical services that are not covered under Part A.

Unlike Medicare Part A, Part B coverage requires payment of a monthly insurance premium.

As a rule, the cost of Medicare Part B can go up 10 percent for each year that you could have enrolled in Part B but chose not to. The 10 percent increase to the monthly premium is paid as long as you are enrolled in Medicare Part B – which may be for life.

Medicare Part D

Everyone who qualifies for Medicare benefits is also eligible for Medicare Part D, which is a plan that provides for prescription drug coverage. The intent of this program is to protect individuals from today's high cost of prescription drugs as well as future costs.

Medicare Part D is provided by private insurance companies. Beneficiaries will need to choose/enroll in a drug plan and pay a monthly premium to the insurance provider they select. And like other insurance, if a participant decides to delay enrollment in a drug plan when they first become eligible, they may wind up paying more for coverage later on.

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