Medicare is a social insurance program that is administered by the governments of the United States and Canada. If a person is qualified for this medical insurance program, he is issued with a Medicare card and entitled to a number of health care benefits. In the United States, this insurance provides coverage of health insurance to individuals aging 65 and above; to those who are aged below 65 and have permanent or congenital physical disability; or those who can satisfy other criteria stipulated in the program. US Medicare functions like a health care system that is single- payer. Prior to Medicare, only fifty- one percent of people who are aged 65 and above had coverage for health care and almost thirty percent lived below federal poverty level.

What makes a person eligible for US Medicare? Generally, all individuals aging 65 and below and having been US legal residents for at least 5 years are eligible for this program. Physically challenged individuals under 65 years old may also be eligible in the event that they receive SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits. People who have some medical conditions may also become eligible applicants.

What benefits are the Medicare beneficiaries entitled to? Medicare insurance program is divided into four different categories: Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. The first part covers hospital insurance; the second part covers medical insurance; the third part covers Medicare advantage plans; and the fourth part covers prescription drugs. The Medicare program originally had only two parts: Parts 1 and 2. The fourth part for prescription drugs was introduced in 2006 of January. Prior to the introduction of Part 4, Part 1 and Part 2 covered the prescription drugs in a few specific cases. Part 3 is an alternative way for beneficiaries to obtain their benefits from Parts 1, 2 and 4.

In Canada, each province has health care plan that is operated by the government. Each Canadian possesses a Medicare card to access benefits of the plan. If you are an American citizen who just visits Canada, you need to prepare sufficient cash for whatever medical attention you will need during your stay in the country. You need to pay in full cash at the time the medical services are performed. Health care providers in Canada never accept US domestic medical insurance. Another alternative for American tourists is to acquire medical travel insurance. In this way, a tourist is always prepared for whatever medical expenses he will need to pay for himself.

What makes a person eligible for the Canadian Medicare program? An individual should be a Canadian citizen or entitled legally to stay in Canada. Therefore, a tourist, visitor or transient is excluded from the eligibility for this health care program in Canada. A Canadian applies for a registration form which is available from the government office of whatever city he lives in or belongs to. In the event that a Canadian applies and gets qualified for the program, he will be entitled to a Medicare card which makes everything official and to a number of medical benefits.

A Medicare card or any health insurance card contains vital information about the holder of it. These details and information include the complete name of the card holder, his/her recent photograph, digital signature of the holder, date of birth of the holder, gender, expiry date of the card and also health insurance number. In every Canadian city, obtaining this card is necessary for a resident to get access to the healthcare coverage offered by the government. This health insurance card is valid for 4 years and must be renewed and updated with a new signature and photo at the time it is needed.