Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older, those with certain disabilities and people with permanent kidney failure. It’s broken down into four parts: Part A is hospital insurance that assists with the cost of inpatient care and skilled nursing facility stays. It also helps with things like hospice and home health care. Part B is medical insurance for doctors office visits, outpatient care, preventative care and medical supplies. It essentially provides all of your other coverage outside of hospital care. Part A and Part B together are referred to a “Original Medicare”. Part D adds prescription drug coverage to “Original Medicare”. Part C is the private insurance portion also known as Medicare Advantage. It’s a bundled plan and an alternative to Part A, B and usually Part D.
Original Medicare is not free. Medicare Part A is funded partially by payroll taxes and is free if you meet certain qualifying criteria (basically a 10 year work history), but you still have a deductible and annual caps on benefits paid. Parts B and D require monthly premium payments and you also have a deductible and coinsurance / copays.