Skip to Content


What is Medicare?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older. Though Medicare benefits likely will not cover every medical service and prescription a person may need, this taxpayer-subsidized program helps people manage medical costs as they age.

Medicare also serves certain younger people with disabilities and people with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).

Medicare has different parts. Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home healthcare. Most people don't pay a monthly premium for Part A. Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Everyone pays a monthly premium for Part B. Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drugs (including many recommended shots or vaccines). To get Medicare drug coverage, you must join a Medicare-approved plan that offers drug coverage. Plans have different monthly premiums.