Medicare is the federal health insurance program for eligible Americans age 65 and older and people living with disabilities. Medicare offers coverage for hospital visits, medical services and prescription drug coverage. If you qualify for Medicare, you can choose to purchase a Medicare prescription drug plan to help you pay for both brand name and generic medicines. Depending on your income, you may also be eligible to participate in the Extra Help program, which provides additional assistance to eligible beneficiaries who have a Medicare prescription drug plan.

What Is Medicare?

Medicare coverage is broken into four different parts, which offer different coverage for different types of health care coverage. When you are eligible for Medicare, you will have to make decisions about each piece:

  • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) – Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, nursing facility care, hospice care and some home health care services.
  • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) – Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, physician administered medicines and some preventive services.
  • Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) – Part C is Medicare offered through a private insurance company. Part C covers all Part A and Part B benefits and most also offer prescription drug coverage. In addition to the Medicare A and B benefits, these Advantage plans may offer extra coverage for other services not covered under traditional Medicare.
  • Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) – Part D is prescription drug coverage offered through Medicare-approved private insurers.

Learn more about Medicare Coverage at

Eligibility and Open Enrollment

You can only enroll in Medicare during certain pre-established times. Your initial enrollment period is determined based on when you become eligible for the program.

However, regardless of when you enroll, every year you can make changes to your coverage – including your Part D prescription drug coverage – during open enrollment. Open enrollment happens every year from October 15 – December 7. Find more tips on open enrollment here. Keeping your list of prescription medicines handy when reviewing your Part D options can help ensure you find the plan that works best for you. And don’t forget to use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool to make shopping easier.

Medicare Extra Help

Medicare offers extra help to qualifying low-income beneficiaries who participate in Medicare Part D. Qualifying applicants are eligible for additional assistance, including help with premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Learn more here to find out if you are eligible and apply for help. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance® has created a worksheet you can use to help prepare your application for Extra Help. Click here to download the worksheet.

More Medicare Resources