What is Medicare?

Published 04/07/2008 07:43 AM   |    Updated 04/07/2008 07:43 AM

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people 65 and older, and for eligible people who are under 65 and disabled.  Medicare is run by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  It is controlled by Congress. 

Medicare was never intended to pay 100% of medical bills.  Its purpose is to help pay a portion of medical expenses.  Medicare beneficiaries also pay a portion of their medical expenses, which includes deductibles, copayments, and services not covered by Medicare. 

There are four parts to Medicare:

  • Hospital insurance (Part A) that helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay), some home health care and hospice care.
  • Medical insurance (Part B) that helps pay for doctors? services and many other medical services and supplies that are not covered by hospital insurance.
  • Medicare Advantage (Part C) formerly known as Medicare + Choice plans are available in many areas. People with Medicare Parts A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through one of these provider organizations under Part C.

Prescription drug coverage (Part D) that helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for treatment.

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