Medicare is the nation's largest health insurance program. Generally, you are eligible for Medicare if you or your spouse worked for at least ten years in Medicare-covered employment and you are 65 years old and a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. You might also qualify for coverage if you are a younger person with a disability or with chronic kidney disease.
Medicare-covered services include:
- Hospital insurance. Financial assistance is available for necessary medical care and services furnished by Medicare-certified hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, and hospices.
- Inpatient hospital care. Medicare helps pay for up to 90 days of inpatient hospital care in each benefit period. Covered services include your semi-private room and meals, general nursing services, operating and recovery room costs, intensive care, drugs, laboratory tests, X rays, and all other necessary medical services and supplies.
- Skilled nursing facility care. If you meet certain conditions, Medicare will help pay for up to 100 days in a participating skilled nursing facility in each benefit period.
- Home health care. If you meet certain conditions, Medicare pays the full approved cost of covered home health-care services. This includes part-time or intermittent skilled nursing services prescribed by a physician for treatment or rehabilitation of homebound patients.
- Hospice care. Medicare helps pay for hospice care for terminally ill beneficiaries who select the hospice care benefit.
- Medical insurance (Part B). Medicare Part B helps pay for doctor's services, outpatient hospital services (including emergency room visits), ambulance transportation, diagnostic tests, laboratory services, some preventive care such as mammography and Pap smear screening, outpatient therapy services, durable medical equipment and supplies, and a variety of other health services.
Additional benefits are available through the Medicare program. For further information contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.