Generally, Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, younger people with disabilities and people with End Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant).
Medicare has two parts, Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medicare Insurance). You are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are age 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. You can get Part A at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:
You are receiving retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
You are eligible to receive Social Security or Railroad benefits but you have not yet filed for them.
You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.
If you (or your spouse) did not pay Medicare taxes while you worked, and you are age 65 or older and a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you may be able to buy Part A. If you are under age 65, you can get Part A without having to pay premiums if:
You have been entitled to Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for 24 months. (Note: starting July 1, 2001, if you have Lou Gehrig''s disease, you can get your Medicare benefits either July 1, 2001 or the first month you get disability benefits, whichever is later.)
You are a kidney dialysis or kidney transplant patient.
You disabled for at least 29 months and you or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.
While most people do not have to pay a premium for Part A, everyone must pay for Part B if they want it. The monthly Part B premium in 2001 is $50.00, this premium will increase to $54.00 per month in 2002. It is deducted from your Social Security, Railroad Retirement, or Civil Service Retirement check. If you do not get any of these payments, Medicare sends you a bill for your Part B premium every 3 months.