Medicare is a health insurance program for people who are age 65 and older, people under age 65 with certain disabilities, or people of any age with end-stage renal disease. Medicare is divided into a few major parts:

  • Medicare Part A, or hospital insurance, helps cover your inpatient care in hospitals, critical access to hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities. It may also help cover hospice care and some home healthcare. Most people do not have a monthly payment for Part A because they or their spouse paid Medicare taxes while they were working.
  • Medicare Part B, or medical insurance, helps cover your doctor's services and outpatient hospital care. It also covers some other medical services that Part A doesn't cover, such as some physical and occupational therapy and some home healthcare. For Part B, most people must pay a premium of $88.50 per month.
  • Medicare Part D for prescription drug coverage, helps reduce your prescription drug costs. You must enroll in this type of plan and the monthly premium charged varies by plan.

Medicare may pay for some of the services you need in your home, but may not pay for all needed long term care. Medicare pays for home health services provided by Medicare-certified home health agencies, including skilled nursing and therapy. It may cover long term care up to 100 days after a recent hospital stay, doctor-prescribed home care as part of a rehabilitative program, and hospice in the case of terminal illness. Medicare pays in full for 0-20 days in a skilled nursing facility after a recent hospital stay. If you need additional care, Medicare will cover up to 100 days after you pay a daily copay.

There are a variety of options when choosing Medicare coverage such as Original Medicare Plans, Medicare Advantage Plans and Medigap Policies which all comply with the policies above. To learn more about Medicare, go to or call 1-800-MEDICARE. To get personalized health insurance advice, contact your state’s Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). You can get the number by contacting Medicare.

Advantages Disadvantages
Medicare provides some coverage in the aftermath of a major medical event. You must be at least 65 years old, disabled, or suffering from end stage renal disease. Because coverage is meant to be rehabilitative, you must show continual signs of improvement to qualify for the full 100 days of coverage.
Medicare covers some skilled nursing care, therapy, and home health aide services that are ordered by a physician and provided by a Medicare-certified provider. Medicare does not cover personal or custodial care provided at home or in the community. You may need help around the home before a major medical event occurs.
Part A coverage requires no premiums for most taxpayers. You must receive care from a Medicare-certified provider. Care provided in assisted living and continuing care facilities is not covered.