Medicare Basics

Julia Carlson |

Today’s changing health care landscape makes understanding Medicare even more important. Whether you have questions for yourself or a loved one, the following answers may help.


  1. What does Medicare cover?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people aged 65 years and older as well as those younger than 65 with specific disabilities or medical conditions. The insurance has four coverage types, which range from inpatient hospital care to prescription drugs. However, Medicare doesn’t cover all medical expenses or extended care, so you may need to consider additional insurance.[1]


  1. How much are the premiums?

For most people, Part A coverage doesn’t have a monthly premium, as long as you worked and paid Medicare taxes. Part B monthly premiums start at $135.50 and go up based on your income. Premiums for Parts C and D vary by plan.[2]  


  1. When do I enroll?

Once you receive Social Security benefits or railroad retirement checks, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends you enrollment details a few months before your Medicare eligibility begins. From there, the SSA typically enrolls you automatically in both Parts A and B. If you’re not getting Social Security or railroad retirement benefits, contact the SSA three months before you turn 65.[3]


  1. What if I still have employer coverage?

If at age 65 you have insurance through work, then you don’t have to sign up for Medicare as long as your organization has 20 or more employees. If you choose to delay, you can enroll in Medicare, penalty free, once you retire.