Medicare, in simple terms, is the federally funded health insurance for people over age 65. Others may also qualify if they have a disability of suffer from permanent kidney failure and need dialysis. Medicare covers most acute (non-permanent) medical ailments, and is divided into four parts (A, B, C and D).
Medicare Part A pay for hospital stays, skilled nursing care in a nursing facility and hospice. Part B pay doctor’s bills, outpatient care and physical and occupational therapy. Part C deals with HMOs and preferred provider plans that offer health insurance plans. The plans have to offer similar coverage as Parts A and B. Part C providers can offer vision and dental coverage as well, and to minimize costs, they can also limit the doctors and hospitals to in-network providers. Medicare Part D offers prescription drug discounts through private insurance companies, and extra premiums are assessed for Part B and D.
Under the original Medicare plan, seniors still have to pay for some health care costs, or a deductible, every year. Each January 1, the amount of deductible, as well as the premiums for Part B and D changes. In order to cover the gap between what Medicare pay for and the deductible, seniors can purchase Medigap insurance. If seniors meet certain income requirements or have a Part C plan, they may not have to pay for a supplemental Medicare insurance policy through coverage under Medicaid.