Medicare is a health insurance program for people age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people of all ages with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant). Medicare has three parts. Medicare Part A is hospitalization insurance which may cover critical care such as inpatient hospital stays. Medicare Part B is medical insurance which may pay for more routine medical care such as doctor’s visits and lab tests. Medicare Part D covers some prescription drugs. If you are over 65 years old there may be no cost for Medicare Part A if you have paid Medicare taxes on your income throughout your life.

The standard premium for Medicare Part B for 2013 is $104.90 per month, with premium rate variations based on income, and the cost of Medicare Part D varies from plan to plan. Medicare also has significant co-insurance and deductibles you will need to pay when you access certain types of care.

Some servicemembers, such as retired military personnel with at least 20 years of service, are eligible for both Medicare and TRICARE for Life (TFL). Servicemembers eligible for both plans will receive Medicare-covered benefits under the Original Medicare Plan, plus all TFL-covered benefits. If these servicemembers use a Medicare provider, Medicare will be the first payer for all Medicare-covered services, and TFL will be the second payer. TFL will pay all Medicare co-payments and deductibles and cover most of the costs of certain care not covered by Medicare. For more information, visit the TRICARE for Life website at www.tricare4u.com.