Understanding Medicare

What is Medicare and what does it cover?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, or those under 65 who may qualify because of a disability or another special situation. Medicare helps millions of American seniors and disabled individuals cover some of their health care costs.

Medicare also offers important choices in how you receive benefits – whether through Original Medicare or through a Medicare-approved private insurer that offers prescription drug coverage and additional benefits like vision, hearing, dental, and more. The different parts of Medicare help cover the costs of specific services. 

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is October 15 to December 7

More people turn to UnitedHealthcare than any other company when it’s time to choose their Medicare coverage.1

Find Medicare plans

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Questions about Medicare plans? Call UnitedHealthcare now

Call 855-721-8514 (TTY 711) toll free, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. local time, 7 days a week2

Let's get to know Medicare

Whether you're just starting out with Medicare, need to brush up on the facts, or are helping a loved one, start here to get the details to help you on your way. 

Medicare eligibility

It's important to know what to do when you're eligible for Medicare. But who's eligible for Medicare and when? Learn when you may become eligible to receive Medicare benefits and what to do next.

Medicare costs

The amount you’ll pay for Medicare depends on the coverage you choose, the health care services and benefits you use during the year, and if your plan has rules about network vs out-of-network costs.

Medicare prescriptions, providers and benefits

When you have Medicare benefits, there are some important details to learn about how to manage prescriptions, choose providers and understand coverage for additional benefits, like vision or dental care.

Medicare enrollment or changing plans

Need to enroll in Original Medicare? Changing plans? There’s a path just for you. Understand timing and coverage options to get where you need to go.

Discover the basics of Medicare

Learn the basics about what's covered with each type of Medicare plan, from Orginal Medicare Part A and Part B to Medicare Supplement Insurance plans (Medigap). 

What is Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A & B)?

You can enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), Medicare Part B (medical insurance), or both. Once you enroll in Medicare, there are more options available from private insurers to provide coverage for the benefits and services that aren't covered by Original Medicare.

What is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. Part A does not cover most care outside of the U.S., long-term care, custodial care or hospital stays beyond certain set limits.

What is Medicare Part B?

Medicare Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Medicare Part B does not cover prescription drugs, dental care, routine eye care, hearing tests or hearing aids.

What is Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C)?

A Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private insurance company that contracts with Medicare to provide Original Medicare (Parts A and B) benefits.

Most Medicare Advantage plans combine hospital, doctor, and drug coverage in one plan, and may include other benefits and features not offered by Original Medicare,  including eye exams, eye glasses and corrective lenses, dental exams, cleanings and X-rays, hearing tests and hearing aids, wellness programs and fitness benefits.

What is Medicare Part D?

Medicare Part D plans are stand-alone prescription drug plans that can help pay for your medication. These plans are offered by insurance companies approved by Medicare.

What are Medicare Supplement insurance plans?

Medicare Supplement insurance (sometimes referred to as "Medigap") works with Original Medicare to pay some of the out-of-pocket costs that Parts A and B alone do not.

Do you qualify for Medicare and Medicaid?

Some people have both Medicare and Medicaid. If so, they could be “dual eligible.” That’s where dual special needs plans — or “dual” plans — come in. Dual plans work together with the individual’s Medicaid plan. Dual health plans cover eligible doctor visits, hospital stays and prescription drugs. If you have Medicare and Medicaid, chances are you could qualify for a Dual Special Needs Plan (D-SNP).

Find the right Medicare coverage for you

Are you trying to make retirement less worrisome and save on health care costs? If you're new to Medicare, or know someone who is, we may be able to help make the transition easier.

Medicare Made Clear Guide

"Medicare Made Clear: Getting Started With Medicare" from UnitedHealthcare explains Medicare and coverage options.

Footnotes

  1. Based on CMS and NAIC enrollment data, May 2021.
  2. In AK and HI, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday