The Four Parts of Medicare

Kari Sanderfer, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist, Arizona (www.socialsecurity.gov), has prepared an excellent summary of the four parts of Medicare:

  • Hospital insurance (Part A), which helps pay hospital bills and some follow-up care. The taxes you (or your spouse in some cases) paid while working financed this coverage, so it’s premium free. For those who are not “insured,” coverage may be purchased.
  • Medical insurance (Part B), which helps pay doctors’ bills and other services. There is a monthly premium you must pay for Medicare Part B and you may refuse this coverage.
  • Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans, which generally cover many of the same benefits a Medigap policy would cover, such as extra days in the hospital after you have used the number of days Medicare covers. People with Medicare Parts A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through one of these provider organizations under Part C. There might be additional premiums required for some plans; and
  • Prescription drug coverage (Part D), which helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for treatment.

Anyone who has Medicare hospital insurance (Part A), medical insurance (Part B), or a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) is eligible for prescription drug coverage (Part D). Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary and you pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage. To learn more about Medicare benefits, read our publication, Medicare, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043.html.

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