Medicare was created in 1965, under the Social Security Act, to provide health insurance to United States citizens who are 65 years of age or older. Anyone of this age is eligible, regardless of his or her medical background and income. People with disabilities who are under 65 years old are also covered. Medicare is often confused with Medicaid, which provides coverage for people with low incomes (and is not based on the age of the recipient).
There are different types of Medicare plans, and there are different parts. Original Medicare consists of part A, hospital insurance, and part B which is medical insurance. Outpatient medical services are covered under part B.
Medicare advantage health plans offered by a private companies that contract with Medicare to provide all of the Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare advantage health plans usually include HMOs and prescription drugs are usually covered under the plans.
Over one fifth (21 percent) of those who are enrolled in Medicare enrollees have inpatient hospitals in any given year. Participation in Medicare is, for all intents and purposes, mandatory in the U.S. Those who refuse to join Medicare part A are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits.
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