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Talking About Medicare: Your Guide to Understanding the Program, 2012

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older and for some younger adults with permanent disabilities and medical conditions.  Prior to 1965, the year in which the Medicare program was established, about half of all seniors lacked health insurance.  Today, virtually all people 65 and older have coverage under Medicare, and are eligible for this coverage without regard to their income or medical history.  Medicare currently provides health insurance coverage for nearly 50 million Americans.

Even with Medicare, people face many choices when they enroll in the program, and each year thereafter. “Talking About Medicare” is intended to provide answers to some basic questions related to Medicare coverage, as well as information to help you make decisions on a range of topics related to enrollment, plan choices and prescription drug coverage.

The Additional Resources section of this guide provides a state-by-state list of key agencies that can answer specific questions about Medicare, Medicaid, supplemental health insurance, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and long-term care.  We hope this guide will be a useful tool for you.

The Kaiser Family Foundation appreciates the significant contributions of the Medicare Rights Center to the 2012 update of Talking About Medicare.

Medicare at a Glance