What is Medicare?

Updated on September 22, 2023

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Medicare definition and meaning

Medicare is a federal health insurance program that helps cover medical costs for vulnerable Americans. The program benefits some people with disabilities and kidney failure, some younger Americans, and individuals 65 years old or older.


More about Medicare

  • The Medicare program consists of several parts which apply to different healthcare needs:
    Medicare Part A: Basic Hospital Insurance Plan typically for inpatient hospital services or convalescence
  • Medicare Part B: Supplementary Medical Insurance Plan for some outpatient hospital or doctors’ services, medical services, and supplies
  • Medicare Part D: Prescription drug coverage, which can cover items like vaccines and certain recommended shots


Along with Social Security tax, Medicare tax is part of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA, which requires employers to withhold 1.45% of their employees’ taxable gross wages.


In addition to direct healthcare expenses and prescriptions, examples of what medicare can cover include hospice care, lab tests, and some medical equipment. Medicare usually does not cover acupuncture, plastic surgery, or dentures.

Using Medicare in a sentence

“Since my grandfather turned 65, we’re hoping Medicare will pay for medical needs like his lift chair.”

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