Medicare is the largest health insurance scheme in the US, which covers over 40 million retired people. The scheme is administered centerally by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Medicare covers:
Persons aged 65 or more.
Some people with disabilities under age 65 (eligible after 24 months on social security disability).
People with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure).
Medicare is divided into four parts, called Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. The benefits of each plan are as follows:
Part A - Hospital Insurance. Helps pay for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facilities, hospice care and some home health care. The benefits of Part A are free and automatically apply when an individual turns 65, assuming you or your spouse has paid Medicare taxes whilst they were employed. If you didn’t pay Medicare taxes, you may still be able to buy into Part A – contact your local Social Security office for help.
Part B - Medical Insurance. Part B is an add-on requiring a monthly premium. Helps pay for doctors services, outpatient hospital care , medical equipment like wheelchairs, and additional medical services such as physical and occupational therapists.
Part C - Medicare Advantage These are ‘added-value’ health care plans provided under the Medicare umbrella. It’s necessary to have Part A and Part B, before you can enroll in an Advantage plan (you’ll have to continue paying your Part B monthly payment to Medicare, and in general pay an extra monthly premium for your Advantage Plan). When you join an Advantage Plan, you’ll receive all your Medicare-covered health care through the plan. It’s also worth noting that if you join an Advantage Plan your Medigap policy is void, so you may wish to drop it.
Part D - Prescription Drug Coverage. A variety of plans are available from insurance companies contracted to Medicare.