Understanding Medicare

Medicare is the United States' federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD). In general, all persons 65 years of age or older who have been legal residents of the United States for at least five years are eligible for Medicare.

Before your 65th birthday is the time to start thinking about Medicare. That means understanding what Medicare is, how and when to enroll and what it does and does not cover. The way you choose to receive your Medicare benefits affects many aspects of your coverage including out-of-pocket costs, plan benefits and provider networks.

If you are approaching age 65 and are not familiar with Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have established a website, Medicare.gov, that will answer some of your questions.

While Medicare is a federal program, private insurers can and do play a role in providing your health plan coverage. You can choose to receive all of your Medicare benefits through a private insurer, or you can choose to receive your Part A and B coverage through original Medicare and sign up for a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) with a private insurer. Additionally, you can choose to add on to your Medicare coverage with a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan, often referred to as Medigap, that helps you with the cost of copays, coinsurance and deductibles among other expenses.

We have created some simple educational videos to explain what each part of Medicare means to you.

Part A

Part B

Part C

Part D

Last Updated: Feb. 28, 2019