The ABC's of Medicare

There are four parts of Medicare.

Original Medicare is composed of two parts, Part A and Part B.

Part A of Original Medicare covers inpatient care in hospitals, care in skilled nursing facilities, hospice care and some home health care. If you have worked for 40 quarters in your lifetime, which would be 10 years of employment, Part A of Medicare usually has no premium attached. There are certain circumstances that can alter this eligibility for Part A.

Part B is the second part of Original Medicare and covers certain services from doctors and other health-care providers, outpatient care, durable medical equipment, and some preventive care services. If you elect to have Part B of Original Medicare, in most cases, there is a premium that you must pay for Part B.

You will need to apply to Social Security for your Part B of Original Medicare. Social Security handles Medicare enrollment work and is the official Medicare traffic cop when it comes to determining if people have enrolled for various parts of Medicare on a timely basis.

If you are going to take Original Medicare as your primary health coverage, prior to your 65th birthday you will need to apply for your Part B of Medicare. You can apply for Part B three months prior to your birthday month.

If you are delaying your Medicare because you are continuing to work and/or have employer group coverage, union and/or spousal creditable health coverage that will remain in force when you reach age 65, you may delay applying for Part B of Medicare until you leave creditable health coverage.