What is Medicare?

Medicare is a social security program administered, administered, and partially funded by the government. Aetna Medicare was officially introduced in 1966. Under Medicare, seniors have a right to health insurance benefits.


Medicare provided coverage specifically for people age 65 and older. When the program started, people were retiring early because they weren’t living as long as they are today. After retirement, seniors had no opportunity to obtain employer-sponsored insurance, and health insurance for seniors was prohibitively expensive.

Medicare eligibility has also expanded over the years to include people with certain terminal illnesses and disabilities. Under the program, you are also eligible if you receive Social Security disability benefits and are under 65 years old. Medicare continues to strive to provide reliable and affordable health insurance to older Americans. That goal has not changed in 50 years, although there are more beneficiaries, workers are retiring later, and people are living longer than they did in the mid-1960s.

Original Medicare consists of two parts: A (hospital coverage) and B (medical coverage). There is also Medicare Part C (or Medicare Advantage), which combines A and B insurance with prescription drug benefits.


Medicare Part A is hospitalization insurance. Part A covers hospital care, specialist nursing facilities and palliative care.

Medicare Part B is health insurance. It usually includes medical and other outpatient services related to daily medical care, such as laboratory tests, diagnostic or preventive care, and some home health services. Part B also covers any supplies deemed medically necessary.

Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, was created as a private option for people who needed more coverage than public option offerings. Plans under this program are provided by private insurers. Visit Medicare.gov or our Program Overview for more information on joining an Advantage Plan.