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Medicare is a federal government insurance program designed to provide healthcare coverage for people 65 or older, certain disabled people, and people with chronic kidney disease.
Anyone who qualifies for Social Security is automatically eligible for Medicare at 65.
Part A, which covers hospital and certain other costs, is provided when you enroll. You can also sign up for Part B, which covers doctor visits and related costs, and Part D, which covers prescription medicines, at the same time.
You pay a separate premium for both Part B and Part D. The Part B premium is set annually and carries surcharges for people whose incomes are above the annual ceilings. Your Part D premium is determined by the private insurer plan you select. If you postpone applying for Parts B and D and don't have equivalent or better coverage -- called creditable coverage -- from another plan, you face a permanent surcharge when you do enroll.
You may also have a choice between Original Medicare, which is a fee-for-service plan run by the government, or a Medicare Advantage plan if one is available where you live. Medicare Advantage plans are private insurer plans.