Chapter 1

The Nuts and Bolts of Medicare: What It Is and How It Works

In This Chapter

arrow Addressing common concerns you may have about Medicare

arrow Getting a handle on the different parts of Medicare

arrow Knowing that you have choices and time-sensitive decisions to make

Medicare is a federal government insurance system that helps tens of millions of seniors and people with disabilities pay for their health care. It’s the only truly national health care program in the United States — meaning that it’s available regardless of your income, the state of your health, or where you live nationwide — and it has been enduringly popular since it began in 1966.

Yet Medicare works like no other insurance you may have known in the past. To avoid total confusion, you’re wise to gain at least a broad understanding of how the program is put together and how its rules may affect you personally.

This chapter provides an overview of the program: addressing common concerns about how Medicare is different from other types of health insurance; describing the four parts of Medicare coverage (A, B, C, and D); and providing a checklist for the decisions that you have to make in choosing among the coverage options ...

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