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Do you have your facts straight on Medicare? Here’s some key data on this crucial senior health care program.

Most Americans have heard of Medicare and have come to associate it with senior health care. But how much do you know about this key program? As of April 2017, there were nearly 58 million people enrolled in Medicare, which is close to 20% of the total U.S. population. Even if you’re not signing up for Medicare anytime soon, there are certain facts about the program you should be aware of. Here are just a few to commit to memory.

1. It has several distinct parts

People tend to think of Medicare as a single program, but in reality, it has several different parts that work independently of one another. Here’s a basic rundown:

  • Medicare Part A covers hospitals, nursing facilities, and home health care services.
  • Medicare Part B covers preventive services such as doctor visits, diagnostic tests, and medical equipment.
  • Medicare Part C is its own separate health plan, offering additional benefits not covered by traditional Medicare. It’s also known as Medicare Advantage.
  • Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs.

As an enrollee, you’ll get the option to choose your Part C or Part D plan based on your specific needs, keeping in mind that different plans offer varying levels of coverage.

2. Eligibility begins at 65 — but you can sign up before then

Though Medicare coverage doesn’t actually kick in until age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday. If you’re already retired, or planning to retire by that point, it pays to sign up early.

3. It’s not free

Though most people don’t pay a premium for Medicare Part A, the remaining parts come at a cost. Currently,…