Medicare is divided into 4 parts, and most people new to Medicare find this very confusing. We can break this down to make it simpler for you to understand.
Medicare Part A
Part A of Medicare is your hospital insurance. This helps you cover common hospital expenses for things such as the cost of a semi-private room for stays, hospice, home health care and even skilled nursing facility stays. Medicare Part A also covers blood transfusions requiring more than 3 pints of blood.
Medicare Part B
Part B of Medicare is for outpatient services that are deemed medically necessary. Medicare Part B includes coverage for services like doctor office visits, lab testing, diagnostic imaging, preventive care, surgeries, ambulance rides, chemotherapy and radiation, and even extensive dialysis care for people with renal failure.
Medicare Part C
Part C of Medicare is somewhat confusing because, unlike the other parts, which cover a specific aspect of medical care, Medicare Part C is just another name for private Medicare insurance. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 created Medicare Part C, which is now referred to as Medicare Advantage.
Medicare Advantage plans are private health plans that you can choose to get your Medicare Part A, Part B, and sometimes also Part D all from one insurance carrier that usually has a network of physicians.
Medicare Part D
Part D is a federally created program to help you lower the cost of your retail prescription drugs. Unlike Medicare Part A & B, you will not enroll in Part D through the Social Security office. Instead, you will select one of the Medicare Part D plans available in your county from private insurance carriers, and by signing up for that plan, you will have enrolled in Part D.
Medicare Part D drug plans have a monthly premium that you will pay to the insurance carrier, and in return, they give you significantly lower copays on your medicines than you would pay if you had no Part D insurance.
There are rules for when you can enroll and disenroll from Medicare Part D, so be sure to visit the Medicare Part D section of our website for more details about how your drug coverage under Medicare will work.