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Medicare is a federal program that issues health insurance for people over 65. However, you must have worked a certain amount of hours in your lifetime. Patients who receive social security disability insurance, have Lou Gehrig’s disease or were diagnosed with end-stage renal disease are also eligible, even if they’re under 65 years old. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services oversees this program. Its funding comes from a combination of income taxes, Medicare premiums, and the federal budget.

Eligible patients can select to get these benefits from the Medicare advantage plan or from original Medicare. The latter is a traditional federal government program while the former is presented by private insurance through contracted companies. The privately sourced plan is designated as C. The original plan offers parts A and B. Part A covers inpatient and hospital care, and part B relates to outpatient and medical treatments. For those who want prescription drug coverage, also known as part D, they should choose a private drug plan (PDP) that’s compatible with Medicare.

You can apply for Medicare three months before you turn 65. You may start the application even when you’re not ready for retirement benefits. The application includes parts A and B, but you can opt out of B. However, if you decide to enroll in it later, you might have to pay higher premiums in the future.

This does not apply when a special enrollment period comes into play. If you have health insurance through an employer, you might not have to apply for part B. You can sign up anytime in the future while still covered, or within eight months after the end of employment or medical coverage.

Part A commonly covers home healthcare, hospice care, and inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing establishment. Ambulance services, clinical research, outpatient and inpatient care, limited prescriptions, and partial hospitalization all fall under part B. It also allows for second opinions before surgeries.