Last updated: March 29, 2016

Medicare Is a Federally-Run Health Insurance Program

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federally-run health insurance program. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administers Medicare. In order to be eligible to receive Medicare, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

• Be age 65 or older

• Have permanent kidney failure

• Have a Medicare-qualified disability

How Does Medicare Work?

There are four separate parts to Medicare:

  1. Part A (Hospital Insurance)
  2. Part B (Medical Insurance)
  3. Part C (Medicare Advantage plans) 
  4. Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) 

Each of these parts covers specific services.

When you near your 65th birthday, you should contact Medicare to see about enrolling in Part A coverage. You will also have the option to enroll in Part B and Part D at this time. For most people, enrollment in Part A is automatic and comes without cost - the Medicare taxes you’ve paid while working cover this premium. Most people will need to pay a monthly premium for Part B, Part C and Part D.