What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for adults age 65 and older. Younger people diagnosed with certain health conditions (like End-Stage Renal Disease) are also eligible for Medicare.

What are the “Parts” of Medicare?

The federal Medicare program is made up of two parts:

Part A - Hospital Insurance helps cover:

  • Hospital Care
  • Care in a skilled nursing facility
  • Hospice Care
  • Some home health care

Medicare Part A usually does not require a monthly premium if you have paid at least 10 years (40 quarters) of Medicare taxes during your working life.

Part B - Medical Insurance helps cover:

  • Doctor and other health care providers' services
  • Outpatient care
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Home Health Care
  • Some preventive care services, such as your flu shots and yearly wellness visits

Medicare Part B usually requires a monthly premium, but in many cases, it can come right out of your Social Security check. Your Part B premium amount is based on your income level.

Together, Medicare Care Parts A and B are often called “Original Medicare.” You can find detailed information about your costs for Original Medicare at Medicare.gov.

Beyond “Original Medicare”: Medicare Supplement Plans and Part D Coverage

Once you’ve enrolled in Original Medicare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont offers two forms of additional coverage:

  • Medicare Supplemental Plans (also called Medigap plans) assist with the remaining costs to Medicare Part A & B after Medicare pays its share.
  • Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage helps you pay for the cost of your prescription medications at the pharmacy or mail order.

Together with Original Medicare, a Medicare Supplement Plan and Part D Prescription Drug Coverage can provide more complete peace-of-mind than Original Medicare alone.

Medicare Infographic


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If you need help, give us a call at (800) 255-4550 (option #2) or email consumersupport@bcbsvt.com. Our licensed consultants are available Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm.