What is Medicare?

Medicare is federal health insurance available for eligible individuals age 65 and over (or) individuals under 65 with certain disabilities or medical conditions, such as End-Stage Renal Disease. Medicare has different parts (referred to as Parts A, B, C and D) designed to address your healthcare needs.

Learn about Medicare eligibility and enrollment.

Understanding Medicare Coverage

Original Medicare

Medicare Parts A and B are referred to as "Original Medicare" and include a defined set of benefits and services, including preventive services.

Medicare Part A

Part A covers inpatient care provided in hospitals or skilled nursing facilities, home health care services and hospice care for the terminally ill.

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Medicare Part B

Part B covers doctor services, outpatient care, medical supplies, durable medical equipment and preventive services.

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OTher Medicare Coverage Options

Private insurance companies provide coverage options beyond Part A and Part B, including Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, Medigap, and Medicare Cost Plans. These plans may include benefits Original Medicare doesn't cover and/or lower your healthcare expenses. Your health needs, finances and lifestyle are all important considerations when evaluating other Medicare coverage options.

Medicare Advantage (Part C)

Medicare Advantage plans provide an alternative to Original Medicare. They offer Parts A and B services and often include additional benefits, such as wellness programs, hearing aids and eye exams. You must have Parts A and B to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

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Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D)

Medicare Part D is Medicare prescription drug coverage. You can get Part D coverage from your Medicare Advantage plan or, if you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you can get it through a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug plan available in your area.

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Medigap (Medicare Supplement)

Medigap plans are state-regulated insurance policies for individuals who receive Medicare coverage through Original Medicare. A Medigap plan covers your Part A and B deductibles and cost sharing amounts for covered Part A and Part B services. You must have Part A and Part B to enroll in a Medigap plan.

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Medicare Cost Plans

Similar to Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Cost Plans cover Parts A and B services and often include additional benefits. These plans are only available in certain geographic areas.

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Medicare with Medicaid

Medicaid is a state-based health insurance program that is funded by both federal and state dollars and covers a set of benefits and services. The program helps low-income individuals and families, people with disabilities and the elderly. Eligibility for Medicaid differs from eligibility for Medicare. Special rules apply for individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

To learn more, visit the Medicaid website or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and ask for the Medicaid telephone number for your State Medical Assistance (Medicaid) office. For TTY assistance, call 1-877-486-2048.

Medicare overview information on this website was developed by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to help consumers understand certain aspects about Medicare. Viewing this Medicare overview does not require you to enroll in any Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. To find out about premiums and terms for these and other insurance options, how to apply for coverage, and for much more information, contact your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company. Each Blue Cross Blue Shield company is responsible for the information that it provides. For more information about Medicare including a complete listing of plans available in your service area, please contact the Medicare program at 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048) or visit www.medicare.gov.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.