The Basics of Medicare

Medicare is a U.S. federal program that provides health insurance for those 65 years old and older, and some people under 65 with certain disabilities. It is the largest health insurance program in the U.S.

Medicare was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 30, 1965, in Independence, Mo. The first person signed up for the program was Missouri’s own President Harry S. Truman.

Medicare Part A and Part B are considered “Original Medicare.” These two form the basic Medicare coverage. Medicare Part D is the most recent addition to Medicare. Most people with Original Medicare also join Part D.

Medicare Part A

This helps pay for hospitals, home health, hospice, and skilled nursing facility care. Most people pay for this while they are working, so there is no monthly cost. Most (99%) Medicare beneficiaries pay $0 for their Part A premium since they accrued 40 work credits, which is roughly 10 years of work. For those who have 39-30 credits pay $259 and below 30 credits pay $471. You will have to pay some money when using the benefits. Learn more about Medicare Part A.

Medicare Part B

This helps pay for medical care. For example, it pays for doctors’ visits, outpatient hospital services, and medical equipment. Most people with Part B pay a monthly premium (usually taken from their Social Security) and share the cost each time they use the benefits. The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $148.50 for 2021. This number may be more or less based on your (and spouse) income. Learn more about Medicare Part B.

Medicare Part D

This helps pay for prescription medicine. To get coverage, you must join a plan run by a private company. Each plan has a different monthly cost. You will normally pay some money when you pick up your medicine. Learn more about Medicare Part D.

Medicare Advantage

This is sometimes called Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage Plans are different ways of getting benefits offered by Part A and Part B. The plans have contracts with Medicare to provide insurance coverage. Plans are required to offer the same benefits as Part A and Part B as Original Medicare. The plans may apply premiums deductibles and co-insurances that are different from Original Medicare. Some also include extra benefits like dental and vision screenings. Learn more about Medicare Advantage.

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