Medicare is a federally managed health insurance program that began in 1965. Now the largest insurance program in the nation, it provides coverage for people age 65 and older and for people with certain disabilities.

Traditionally, Medicare has provided coverage for health services such as hospital stays, skilled nursing facilities, and doctors’ visits. Medicare has since increased its medical and prescription drug coverage with the passing of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act in 2003 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act in 2010 (commonly known as “Health Care Reform”).

You become eligible to enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance), also known as “Original Medicare,” three months before you turn age 65.

Medicare Part A, B, C, and D

There are four parts to Medicare:

  • Part A offers benefits for inpatient hospitalization.
  • Part B covers outpatient services like doctors’ office visits.
  • Part C encompasses the Medicare Advantage Plans. These are the different plan designs that offer Medicare beneficiaries various choices for accessing their Medicare benefits.
  • Part D is the part of Medicare that covers outpatient prescriptions.

If you’d like to learn more about Medicare, visit