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What is Medicare?

what age can you apply for medicare

By Dana Anspach. Money Over 55 Expert

Dana Anspach has been's MoneyOver55 Expert since 2008. She is also a contributor to MarketWatch as one of their RetireMentors .

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Medicare is health insurance for people age 65 or older.

There are two main parts to Medicare:

  • Medicare Part A is referred to as hospital insurance. This is free for most people.
  • Medicare Part B is referred to as medical insurance. You pay a monthly premium for this.

Many people assume that Medicare will pay for most all of their health care costs in retirement. In reality, on average, expect Medicare to cover only about 50% of your total health care expenses.

You must plan

on incurring expenses for dental, hearing, vision, co-pays for doctors visits and drugs, and expenses for alternative health care that you may wish to use.

In general, medically necessary services and preventative services will be covered. To find out if a service is covered you can use the "is my test, item or service covered " feature on the Medicare website to find out.

Am I Eligible for Medicare?

To be eligible for Medicare you must have:

  • Entered the United States lawfully
  • Lived in the U.S. for 5 years
  • Medicare also applies to people under age 65 with certain disabilities, and people of any age with permanent kidney failure.

How Much Does It Cost to Enroll in Medicare?

Cost for Medicare Part A

Most people don’t have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A because they or a spouse paid Medicare taxes while working in the United States, and have 40 or more quarters of Medicare-covered employment.

If you don’t automatically get premium-free Part A, you may still be able to enroll, and pay a premium.

Category: Insurance

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