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What is Medicare?

Medicare is a nationwide health insurance program run by the federal government. You can qualify for Medicare if you are age 65 or older and/or if you have certain disabilities or End-Stage Renal Disease (ERSD).

Medicare has four parts:

Part A

Part B

  • Medical Insurance
  • Doctors' visits and other services outside of a hospital
  • Home health care
  • Durable medical equipment, like a wheelchair
  • Limited prescription drugs

Part C

  • Medicare Advantage Plans 
  • Hospital and medical care (Part A & B)
  • Prescription drugs (usually)
  • Other benefits and services at an extra cost (usually)

Part D

  • Prescription Drug Coverage
  • Prescription drugs not covered under Part B

Who is Eligible?

  • People 65 and older
  • People with permanent disabilities who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (after a two-year waiting period)
  • People with End-Stage Renal Disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (no waiting period)

**Note:** Most people don't pay a premium for Part A: Hospital Insurance because they or a spouse already paid for it through their payroll taxes while working.

Financial Help

If you have low income, you may qualify for:


Additional insurance to pay medical costs
Learn more about Medicaid

Medicare Savings Program (MSP)

Help to pay Medicare premiums and/or cost sharing like copays and deductibles (If you are disabled and working, you may qualify for a special MSP)
Learn more about MSP

Extra Help

Help to pay prescription drug costs
Learn more about extra help

For more information and to apply:

How to Apply

  • You will automatically get Medicare if you get Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board Benefits and you (a) turn 65 or (b) you've received disability benefits for 24 months.
  • If you are not automatically enrolled, you will need to sign up. You may be charged a late fee if you don't sign up for Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance when you are eligible.

Call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) and say "Agent" to ask questions or apply. (TTY: 877-486-2048)

Visit the Social Security enrollment page to apply online

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