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Medicare is a national health insurance program for eligible citizens and permanent residents of the United States over 65 and people under 65 who are receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Most US health plans pay secondary to Medicare. Therefore, even if you are covered by a retiree health plan, an individual policy, or a small employer group plan, you must enroll in Medicare at 65.

Medicare is often referred to by its “parts.”

Part A

Covers part of the cost of hospitalization and is free of a monthly premium for those eligible.

Part B

Covers part of the cost of doctor visits and other health care services. Medicare charges a monthly premium for Part B unless special assistance for the poor is provided.

Part D

Covers part of the cost of prescription drugs and is offered through private insurers.

In addition to Medicare, you may also want additional or alternative insurance offered through private insurers.

Supplemental Insurance

Often referred to as Medigap and designed to cover the costs Medicare does not, such as some deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance.

Medicare Advantage Plans

Sometimes referred to as Medicare Part C. They are responsible for delivering all coverage of Parts A and B. Most also offer Part D prescription drug coverage.

Signing up for Medicare is automatic if you are already receiving Social Security when you turn age 65. If you are not receiving Social Security, you will need to sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday. You can sign up for Medicare through the Social Security office at 1-800-772-1213 or But signing up through Social Security only takes care of Parts A and B. If you want Part D, Medigap or Medicare Advantage coverage, you will need to pick a plan and enroll through the private insurer or through Medicare. If you do not enroll in Medicare during the appropriate enrollment period, you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty when you do enroll.

  Medicare Monthly Premiums

 Part A

 $224.00 - $407.00*

 Part B

 $104.90 - $335.70

         * If less than 40 quarters; otherwise free if greater than or equal to 40 quarters
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