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What is Medicare?

Medicare Basics


Medicare is health insurance for people age 65 or older.

There are two main parts to Medicare:

  • Medicare Part A is referred to as hospital insurance.
  • Medicare Part B is referred to as medical insurance.

To be eligible for Medicare you must have:

  • Entered the United States lawfully
  • Lived in the U.S. for 5 years
  • Medicare also applies to people under age 65 with certain disabilities, and people of any age with permanent kidney failure.

How Much Does It Cost to Enroll in Medicare?

Cost for Medicare Part A

Most people don’t have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A because they or a spouse paid Medicare taxes while working in the United States, and have 40 or more quarters of Medicare-covered employment.

If you don’t automatically get premium-free Part A, you may still be able to enroll, and pay a premium.

  • For 2012 the Medicare Part A premium is $248.00 per month for people having 30-39 quarters of Medicare-covered employment.
  • For 2012 the Part A premium is $451.00 per month for people who are not otherwise eligible for premium-free hospital insurance and have less than 30 quarters of Medicare-covered employment.

(See Medicare Premiums and Coinsurance Rates for 2012 for additional details and info on deductibles that may apply.)

Cost for Medicare Part B

For those enrolling in Medicare in 2012, you will pay the standard Medicare Part B premium of $99.90 per month unless your modified adjusted gross income is greater than:

  • $85,000 for single filers
  • $170,000 for joint filers

If your income exceeds the amounts above see 2012 Medicare Part B Premiums for details on what you will pay.

Next: When and How to Apply for Medicare

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