What Is Medicare?

What exactly is Medicare and how does it work? 

Medicare is a federal health insurance program primarily designed for people age 65 or older and younger people who are eligible for medicare due to certain disabilities and End Stage Renal Disease.

Smiling couple looking out of a window

A brief history of Medicare

Medicare health coverage dates back to 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law.

The original components of Medicare consisted of Part A and Part B, which today are known as “Original Medicare.” Original Medicare Parts A and B offer hospital insurance (Part A) and medical care insurance (Part B).

In 1972, Medicare expanded to provide coverage for the disabled and people with End Stage Renal Disease requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant. Medicare continued to evolve over the years.

Medicare Part C plans — known as Medicare Advantage plans — allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive their benefits through private health plans.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (and many Medicare Advantage plans) provide prescription drug coverage.

Learn more about Medicare eligibility and requirements for enrolling in Medicare.

The four parts of Medicare

Medicare is made up of four parts. These are labeled as Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D.

Part A — Hospital insurance

Part A of Medicare provides coverage for stays in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, hospice care and limited home health care.

Part B — Medical insurance

Part B of Medicare covers doctor’s appointments, medical services, medical supplies and preventive care, among other services.

Part B requires monthly premiums. The standard Part B premium in 2019 is $135.50 per month.

Part C — Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage is an alternative to Original Medicare. Instead of receiving Medicare benefits from the traditional government fee-for-service system, you receive your benefits from one of many private health insurance plans.

A Part C Medicare plan may also provide additional benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t, like dental care, vision and prescription drug coverage.

Part D

Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage.

You can receive prescription drug benefits two ways — through a Medicare Advantage plan that covers prescription drugs or through a standalone Prescription Drug Plan that can be used with Original Medicare or with a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage.

Call a licensed insurance agent

If you’d like to discuss your Medicare Advantage plan options, call to speak with a licensed insurance agent today.


Find Medicare Advantage plans in your area

Compare Plans

Or call TTY Users: 711 24/7 to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

Copyright © 2019 TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. All rights reserved.

MedicareAdvantage.com is a website owned and operated by TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. TZ Insurance Solutions LLC and TruBridge, Inc. represent Medicare Advantage Organizations and Prescription Drug Plans having Medicare contracts; enrollment in any plan depends upon contract renewal.

Plan availability varies by region and state. For a complete list of available plans, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.