Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in the Greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area

Medicare 101: The Basics

Understanding the parts of Medicare is important for aging seniors and their caregivers. Selecting the best options is important to ensure you are covered for cares you may need. Although it’s important to understand, it may seem daunting or overwhelming to get started. Let’s break down the basics, so you are prepared to make an informed decision when that time comes. 

What is Medicare? 

Medicare is the federal health insurance system for those 65 and older, younger individuals with disabilities, or those with End-Stage Renal Disease.  Medicare is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). More information on CMS is available at

When to Apply? 

Medicare gives a 7-month enrollment period. The timeline for applying for Medicare begins three months before you or your loved one turns 65 and ends 3 months after. If you are still employed with private insurance at 65, you may request to defer your enrollment period. 


There are four parts that make up Medicare Coverage. Let’s break them down below:

  • Part A: Medicare Part A is hospital insurance and covers:
    • Inpatient Hospital Stays
    • Skilled Nursing Facilities 
    • Home Health Services
    • Hospice
  • Part B: Medicare Part B is medical insurance and covers:
    • Outpatient Clinics
    • Home Health Services
    • Durable Medical Equipment
    • Prevention Services 
    • Health Care Providers and Doctors
  • Part C: Medicare Part C is known as an Advantage Plan. It is a bundle of parts A,B and D.
    • These plans replace traditional Medicare with bundled packages that include services from the different parts of Medicare. Each one may be different in what they cover, so it is important to know your coverage options before selecting a plan that works for you.
  • Part D: Medicare Part D is prescription drug insurance and covers:
    • Prescriptions
    • Covered Vaccines 

Although Medicare Part D is regulated by the federal government, it is sold and handled by private insurance companies at an additional cost to you. 

Things to Consider: 

When selecting which Medicare option will work for you or your loved one, it is important to consider the structure of the coverages you select. The two options are Traditional Medicare (Parts A and B), or an Advantage Plan (bundled services). It is recommended that you schedule an appointment with an agent to discuss which option will be best suited for you or your loved one. The agent will be able to discuss each individual situation and have knowledge of what plans are available in your area. 


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