Whether you're about to turn 65, approaching retirement age or want to learn more about how Original Medicare works, understanding Medicare will help you make important decisions on the kinds of health coverage that best fit your needs.
What is Medicare?
Medicare is a federal health insurance program, administered by Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Who can get Medicare?
U.S. citizens and legal residents are eligible for Medicare if you fall into any of these categories:
- You are age 65 or older and eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits
- You are 65 or older and married to someone eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits
- You've been receiving Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months
- Any age with a diagnosis of End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD/kidney failure) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
If you're eligible for Medicare, you can get health coverage through Original Medicare alone.
However, many people find that Original Medicare does not cover all their healthcare needs because many medical services and supplies are not covered. To help pay for these services and supplies, many people enhance their coverage with a Medicare Advantage plan. People like the convenience and coverage of a Medicare Advantage plan that provides rich benefits without large plan premiums.
It’s important to know when you’re eligible for Medicare and what to do if you are. Learn more about Medicare eligibility, what to do if you want to work past age 65 and how to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B.
What if I continue to work past age 65?
You have Medicare decisions to make when you turn 65 even if you have coverage through an employer—yours or your spouse’s (if they’re still working). Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) happens when you’re turning 65 whether you’re still going to work or not. So be sure you know your IEP dates.
Learn how Medicare may work with your employer coverage.
Some employers require you to get Original Medicare (Parts A and B) benefits at age 65. Many people with employer coverage enroll in just Part A during their IEP. Part A is premium free for most people and may provide hospital coverage in addition to your employer plan. Your employer’s benefits administrator should be able to help you learn more about your choices.