Common Questions

Medicare Online

You can learn everything you need to know about Medicare online — from the different parts of Medicare, to the benefits offered, to enrollment.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older and younger people with certain disabilities and End Stage Renal Disease.

Understanding Medicare may be confusing for some people, but the good news is you can learn everything you need to know about Medicare online — from the different parts of Medicare, to the benefits offered, to enrollment.

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What does Medicare cover?

Medicare is made up of four parts: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D.

  • Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and limited home health care.

  • Part B (Medical Insurance) covers outpatient care, doctors’ services, preventive services, medical supplies and other services.

    Medicare Part A and Part B make up what is known as “Original Medicare”

  • Part C (Medicare Advantage plans) is an alternative to Original Medicare that allows you to receive the same benefits as Part A and Part B through a private health insurance plan.

    Medicare Advantage plans may also include other benefits, like vision, dental and prescription drug coverage.

  • Part D is Medicare’s prescription drug coverage. You can receive drug coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan, or through a standalone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) that can be used in conjunction with Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans that don’t include drug coverage.

Signing up for Medicare online

Some people are automatically enrolled in Medicare and do not have to worry about manually enrolling the program. You will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and receive your Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th birthday or on your 25th month of disability if:

  • You already receive retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)

  • You are under 65, have a disability and have been receiving Social Security or RRB benefits for 24 months

  • You have ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease)

  • You live in Puerto Rico and get Social Security or RRB benefits

What to do if you aren’t automatically enrolled

If you aren’t automatically enrolled in Medicare, you’ll need to actively enroll yourself during your initial enrollment period (IEP).

Your IEP begins three months before your birthday month, includes your birthday month, and ends three months later.

If you don’t sign up on time, you could incur a late enrollment penalty, so it’s important to determine when you are eligible. You can learn more about Medicare eligibility and enrolling in Medicare online through the Social Security Administration’s website.

If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C) or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan online, you can get started by comparing plans on our site or by calling a licensed insurance agent today.


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About the author

Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.

His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.

Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

Where you've seen coverage of Christian's research and reports:

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