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What is Medicare?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older and younger people with disabilities. When you first turn 65 you will need to decide what type of Medicare coverage you would like. Then, each year you have the option of changing your type of coverage.

There are four different parts of Medicare:

  • Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.

  • Part B covers certain providers' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Parts A and B are sometimes referred to as “original” Medicare. Learn about the physical exams and wellness visits you’re eligible for with Medicare Part B.

  • A Medicare Advantage Plan is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans include Health Maintenance Organizations, Preferred Provider Organizations, Private Fee-for-Service Plans, Special Needs Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. If you're enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare services are covered through the plan and aren't paid for under Original Medicare.

  • Part D adds prescription drug coverage to original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private-Fee-for-Service Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. These plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans may also offer prescription drug coverage that follows the same rules as Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.