The health insurance program for people who receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits, or adults who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Recipients get some benefits automatically, and other benefits if they choose to have a monthly Medicare insurance premium deducted from their Social Security check. The federal government chooses a single insurance company (such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield) to run the program in each region of the country. This company is required to use national Medicare eligibility rules to decide for what medical care (including limited nursing home care) Medicare will pay. Many people choose a different insurance company, or an HMO, from which to get their Medicare benefits. These companies are paid the monthly Medicare insurance premium by the federal government, and are required to pay for at least as much care as Medicare does.

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