Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).

The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:

Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. For most people there is no cost for Part A because they or their spouse paid Medicare taxes while working.

Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Most people pay the standard Part B premium which is currently $104.90 per month. Those with higher incomes pay more than the standard premium.

Part C otherwise known as Medicare Advantage is a way to get all the benefits included in Part A and B from a private insurance company rather than from Medicare. The cost of Medicare Advantage plans vary.

Part D covers prescription drugs and is also provided by private insurance companies. Part D can be included in Medicare Advantage plan or be purchased as a stand alone plan. The cost of Part D varies.