Life Skills for Your LifeSpan: What Is Medicare, exactly? | Health, Medicine and Fitness

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Are you turning 65 soon? Welcome to the club. There will be some important decisions about your future health care coming up and more, but here are a few essentials to catch you up.

1. Medicare is a federal government run health insurance program for U.S. citizens and many permanent legal residents age 65 and older. (Although it also covers some younger disabled people, too.) Once you join Medicare, it will provide coverage for the rest of your existing life. You can join three months before your 65th birthday month, the month of your 65th and three months after your birthday month. That’s seven months to join!

2. Medicare is NOT a health care provider. Under the Medicare program, you make your own choice about how you get medical and wellness care and from whom. Medicare is simply a type of payment program like any other health insurance, but a federal government entity.

3. If you worked over the years, you’ve already funded a portion of your coverage through your payroll taxes you and your employers have paid in.

4. Just like a private health insurance, Medicare has different plans to choose from and may cover many of your costs, but note, not all.

5. Medicare, a federal government health insurance program has strict sign-up deadlines. If you do enroll late, you could face penalties and higher costs for the rest of your life. (See No. 1)

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