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Original Medicare

If you are reaching Medicare eligibility, you are probably wondering what Original Medicare consists of. Whether you are preparing to retire or about to celebrate your 65th birthday, you will need to make decisions about your Medicare coverage soon. Not only are there dozens of plans and coverage types available, but Medicare has unique options making it important to choose the right coverage for you. Below, we provide you with the information needed to understand what Original Medicare is and how your benefits work.

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What is Original Medicare?

Learn what Original Medicare covers

Original Medicare was signed into law by President Johnson in 1965. Original Medicare provides healthcare coverage to eligible beneficiaries for both inpatient and outpatient services at medical facilities nationwide and is a fee-for-service plan that is managed by the federal government.

Since its inception in 1965, Original Medicare has consisted of the same two parts. Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. For more than 50 years, Original Medicare has provided coverage for Seniors and Americans with disabilities.

With Original Medicare, you can go directly to the doctor or hospital of your choice, bypassing prior authorizations or referrals. The government is responsible for paying its portion directly to your provider and you cover the left-over costs. The only qualification for care is that the doctor you choose accepts Medicare.

Original Medicare: Medicare Part A vs. Medicare Part B

Medicare Part A Coverage

Medicare Part A provides hospital inpatient coverage. This means hospital visits, hospice care, and home health care all falls under the Original Medicare umbrella.

For many beneficiaries, Medicare Part A has a $0 monthly premium, but some pay for this coverage. The premium depends on how long you’ve contributed to Medicare taxes.

Original Medicare only covers Medicare Part A services after you’ve met the per-occurrence deductible. A new occurrence or benefit period starts when you’ve been out of an inpatient facility for 60 days or more.

Medicare Part B Coverage

Medicare Part B is the outpatient portion of Original Medicare. Medicare Part B benefits can be utilized at the doctor’s office or for approved durable medical equipment.

While Medicare Part A is premium-free for most, Medicare Part B has a monthly premium based on income.

For outpatient services, Original Medicare covers 80% after you meet the annual deductible.

What Are the Qualifications for Original Medicare?

If you are an American citizen turning 65 or have been on disability for at least 24 months, you are likely to be eligible for Original Medicare. Additionally, those with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or End-Stage Renal Disease are eligible for Medically immediately following their diagnosis.

Understanding Original Medicare Premiums

Each month, you’ll likely pay a standard premium for Medicare Part B coverage. However, if your income exceeds a certain amount, you may pay a larger monthly premium. The cost of Medicare depends on your situation, income, plan choice, and applicable late enrollment fees.

How to Enroll in Original Medicare

Original Medicare enrollment is done through your local Social Security office. You can apply for Original Medicare via phone, online through the Social Security website, or in person.

Generally, you can pick one of these three periods to enroll:

  1. Initial Enrollment Period: This occurs when the beneficiary turns 65.
  2. Special Enrollment Period: Qualifying life events that allow you to make changes to your Medicare coverage.
  3. General Enrollment Period: Runs from January 1 to March 31 annually. During this time, you may sign up if you didn’t do so during your Initial Enrollment Period. Delaying Part B enrollment may result in a late enrollment penalty.


Why does Medicare exist?
Medicare exists to provide health coverage to those at least 65 years old, and those collecting Social Security Disability Income.
How do I know if I have Original Medicare?
A good way to know if you have Original Medicare is to look at your social security check deductions. Those collecting Social Security will automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare. You will see the monthly premium deduction from your Social Security benefits check. You can also check your status online at MyMedicare.gov or call Medicare directly.
How old do you have to be to get Medicare?
Most people get Medicare at age 65. But, those collecting SSDI benefits for at least 24 months can be eligible at any age. Anyone with ALS or ESRD will qualify before age 65 without having to wait.
Who is not eligible for Medicare?
You are not eligible for Medicare if you’re not a United States citizen and haven’t been a resident of the United States for at least five years. Or if you are younger than 65 with no disabilities.
What documents do I need to apply for Medicare?
To apply for Medicare you’ll need proof of citizenship or legal residency, a birth certificate, and your driver’s license.
Do I need a referral to see a specialist with Medicare?
With Original Medicare, you don’t need a referral to see a specialist or your primary doctor. But, you’ll want to see a specialist that at least accepts Medicare assignment.

How to Get Help Understanding Original Medicare

We hope the above information was helpful. We’re here as a resource to help you better understand all aspects of Medicare. Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything. Part A and Part B both leave 20% of costs uncovered for you to pay out-of-pocket.

However, Medicare Supplement or Medigap plan will pay for what Medicare doesn’t. To find out more about Medicare Supplements, call the number above.

One of our agents will ask you a series of questions to better identify your policy match. Then, they can compare all the top Medicare insurance companies in your service area to find the right option. You’ll see why many seniors trust us with their insurance needs.

We have your back long after enrollment. Our Client Care Team ensures our customers have a great experience for years to come. We can answer all your Medicare questions. If calling now isn’t an option, fill out our online rate form to start the process. An agent will be in contact with you to provide free, no-obligation advice.


MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare educator serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.
Ashlee Zareczny

Ashlee Zareczny

Compliance Manager
Ashlee Zareczny is the Compliance Manager for MedicareFAQ. As a licensed Medicare agent in all 50 states, she is dedicated to educating those eligible for Medicare by providing the necessary resources and tools. Additionally, Ashlee trains new and tenured Medicare agents on CMS compliance guidelines. Ashlee is a Medicare expert who specializes in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D education.

5 thoughts on "Original Medicare"

  1. You should receive a letter from Medicare when/if ever your coverage dips below ‘credible’. Then if it does fall below ‘credible’, you must enroll in a Part D for prescriptions or be penalized if and when you ever do enroll in a Part D, under some circumstances. Low Income Subsidies qualifications result in a waiver of penalty. Social Security determines LIS qualifications that subsidizes drug costs. Some Medicare Advantage Plans cover Part D and include A, B,and C, as well as other coverages such as dental, vision and hearing.

  2. Hi, can you advise how I can get some extra help to cover my Part B payment, my doctors’ copays as well as my prescription drugs costs.
    I receive a monthly Social Security of $633. and have been missing my appointments often. Last month I went without the medication Niacin 1000mg. because I could not pay for the increased cost. I also pay $54.00 monthly for my United Health Care Advantage plan.

  3. What makes a group health plan with less than 20 employees qualify as creditable coverage? I was 65 in April 2021 and delayed Medicare as I was covered under a large group plan (more than 20 employees). That coverage expired Aug 31, 2021. I moved to another state but have exceptional coverage under a new employment plan that exceeds Medicare coverage. Does that qualify the plan to be creditable? What questions should I be asking or what forms should I be requesting?


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