Medicare has 4 parts: A, B, C, and D. We are here to break down these parts in an easy-to-understand way.
Medicare Part A
Part A of Medicare covers inpatient care. This covers hospital expenses, hospice, home health care, and skilled nursing facility stays. This part of Medicare also covers blood transfusions requiring more than 3 pints of blood.
Part A is also free for most people as long as they have worked at least 10 years in the U.S. (40 quarters) and paid Medicare taxes that entire time.
There are many things that happen in a hospital that fall under another part of Medicare – Part B.
Medicare Part B
Part B of Medicare is for outpatient care that is deemed medically necessary. Medicare Part B includes coverage for services like doctor office visits, lab testing, diagnostic imaging, preventive care, surgeries, ambulance rides, chemotherapy, radiation, and even extensive dialysis care for people with renal failure.
You may not be automatically enrolled in Part B if you don’t receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits. If you are not, you will have to pay an income-adjustable monthly premium.
Medicare Part C
Part C of Medicare is referred to as Medicare Advantage. This is essentially a way of offering Original Medicare through private insurance companies. What that means is that you will get Part A & B benefits, and depending on the plan, you may get Part D coverage as well. Advantage plans usually have a network of providers.
Part C plans can often have lower premiums than Medigap. However, you’ll pay more copays as you go along so they are not necessarily cheaper over the long term. Before enrolling in one, read our post on Medicare Advantage vs Medicare Supplement.
Medicare Part D
Part D is a federally created program to cover prescription drug coverage. Part D plans are available through private insurance carriers that give you significantly lower copays on your medicines.
These plans are optional, so you will pay a monthly premium that you will pay to the insurance carrier. Prescription drug coverage comes in many forms such as stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs), supplemental plans with drug coverage or Medicare Advantage plans with drug coverage (MA-PD).
There are rules for when you can enroll and disenroll from these drug plans, 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.