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How is Medicare different from other health insurance?

Who is this for?

Learn more about how Medicare works.

Whether you've had health insurance through work or bought it on your own, this page will help you understand how Medicare is different.

You've probably noticed that Medicare is somewhat different from health insurance plans you've had before.

Before Medicare, your plan likely included medical and prescription coverage. And if you had health insurance through work, you probably had dental and vision coverage, too.

Original Medicare, or Medicare you get from the government, only covers medical and hospital benefits. But there are plans on the market that combine medical, prescription, dental and vision coverage on one plan. They're called Medicare Advantage plans. You can read more about how Medicare Advantage plans are different from Original Medicare in our Help Center.

Another major difference is that Original Medicare doesn't have an out-of-pocket maximum. That means there's no annual cap on how much you pay for your health care. Almost all other health insurance plans have this feature.

Before Medicare, you and your spouse may have been on the same health plan. But Medicare doesn't work that way. Each plan only covers one person, so you and your spouse have to enroll separately.

To look more deeply at how Medicare compares to other health insurance, choose a question below.