About Medicare

Medicare is a federal government program which provides health insurance coverage to eligible beneficiaries. You're eligible to join Medicare if you are:

  • A United States citizen or legal resident who has lived in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years, AND
  • Age 65 or older, OR
  • Under age 65 and qualify on the basis of disability or other special situation, OR
  • Any age, but have end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or kidney transplant).

Who administers Medicare plans?

Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B) is run by the federal government. With Original Medicare, the government pays fees for your health care directly to the doctors and hospitals you visit.

Other types of Medicare plans, such as Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C), are operated by private insurance companies that are contracted by the government. The government pays a fixed fee to your plan for your care, and your plan then pays your doctors and hospitals.

What are my Medicare coverage choices?

You can choose the type of Medicare plan you want, based on what's available in your area and your coverage needs. Here's an overview of what each coverage plan offers:

Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B)

  • Helps cover hospital stays, preventive care, doctor visits and other medical services.
  • Run by the federal government.
  • Gaps in medical coverage can be supplemented by a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan.
  • Can be supplemented with a stand-alone prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D), which you purchase separately.


Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C)

  • Provides the same coverage and services as Original Medicare, with additional benefits that vary by plan.
  • Some plans include prescription drug coverage.
  • Run by private insurance companies that are contracted by the government.
  • Works similarly to an employer-sponsored health plan.


Medicare prescription drug plans (Medicare Part D)

  • Helps cover the costs of your prescription drugs.
  • Run by private insurance companies that are contracted by the government.
  • Can be added to Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) plan.


Medicare Supplement Insurance

  • Helps pay the "gaps" in Original Medicare coverage, such as copays and deductibles.
  • Some plans offer additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare.
  • Run by private insurance companies. These plans are regulated by the state in which you reside, and are not a benefit offered by the federal government.
  • Can be added to Original Medicare.