Understanding Medicare

Learn How Medicare Works


What is Medicare?

Medicare is a health care program run by the federal government.

There are different parts to Medicare:

  • Part A covers hospital care; most people get Part A when they sign up for Medicare.
  • Part B helps cover doctor services and outpatient care.
  • Part C plans cover all Medicare Parts A and B benefits, and most offer more.
  • Part D covers prescription drug coverage.

How do I qualify for Medicare?

You qualify for Medicare if:

  • You’re age 65 or older and a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
  • You’re under 65 and living with certain disabilities.
  • You have end-stage renal disease (your kidneys can no longer work well enough to keep you alive).

What kinds of Medicare plans are there?

Medicare plans offered by private insurance companies cover a wide range of benefits. They come in three basic types:

  • Plans that cover the same as Original Medicare. Most add prescription drugs, vision and hearing. They’re called Part C or Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Plans that cover Medicare prescription drugs. These are known as Part D plans.
  • Plans that cover costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. They’re known as Medicare supplement plans, or Medigap plans.

When can I enroll in a Medicare plan?

  • When turning 65 – Medicare enrollment period begins three months prior to your 65th birthday and continues three months after your 65th
  • Annual Open Enrollment Period – You can review your coverage each year to see if it still fits your needs. You can make changes once a year during Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment period, October 15 through December 7.
  • Special Election Period – A special election period, also known as a special enrollment period, is a time period during which Medicare beneficiaries can change their Medicare Advantage or Part D coverage outside of the normal annual open enrollment period and after their initial enrollment period has ended if they have a qualifying event.

Want to learn more?

At New West Physicians, we can help. If you’re looking to learn more about Medicare or need help comparing plans we accept, call our Senior Patient Advocate Team at 1-303-716-8044.

A representative from the Senior Patient Advocate Team can connect you with a licensed insurance agent in your area to review your health insurance plan options.

New West Physicians Senior Patient Advocate Team connects Medicare beneficiaries with resources including licensed insurance agents that sell Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.

Get information directly from Medicare 

Visit medicare.gov. Or call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.