Medicare Basics

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for:

  • People who are 65 or older
  • Certain younger people with disabilities
  • People with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD)

What are the parts of Medicare?

The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:

  • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
    Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.
  • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
    Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.
  • Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)
    Helps cover the cost of prescription drugs (including many recommended shots or vaccines).

The Story of Medicare: A Timeline

What are Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plans?

A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy, sold by private insurance companies, can help pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

Some Medigap policies also offer coverage for services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like medical care when you travel outside the U.S. If you have Original Medicare and you buy a Medigap policy, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount for covered health care costs. Then your Medigap policy pays its share.

A Medigap policy is different from a Medicare Advantage Plan. Those plans are ways to get Medicare benefits including prescription drugs, while a Medigap policy only supplements your Original Medicare Parts A and B benefits. A Medigap policy does not include prescription drug coverage, but members can have a separate drug plan if it is purchased within the Open or a Special Enrollment period.

There are no Medicare Advantage Plans currently available in Humboldt or Del Norte Counties.

Call HICAP at (707) 444-3000 in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties for Free Medicare Help.