Medicare is divided into four parts: A, B, C, and D. The first two parts, A and B, are sometimes called “Original Medicare.” Part C, also known as “Medicare Advantage” is a private insurance plan that provides similar benefits as Original Medicare. The final piece of Medicare, Part D, is a prescription drug plan.
Medicare Part A
Part A is the hospital insurance part of Original Medicare. If you enroll in Medicare, you must have Part A. All of the other parts are optional.
The coverage for Part A spans from inpatient hospital care to at-home physical therapy. It also covers blood transfusions after the first 3 pints of blood and inpatient care at a religious, non-medical care facility.
Most people don’t have to pay the Medicare Part A premium, which is $437 a month in 2019. The coverage is free if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working, or if you are eligible or receive retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
When you use Medicare Part A, you have to pay a deductible before coverage kicks in. The Medicare Part A deductible is $1,364 in 2019. If you use Part A, you will have some co-insurance costs you need to pay before your care is covered.
Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B is the medical insurance part of Original Medicare, and enrolling in Medicare Part B is optional. When you sign up for Medicare Part A, you can reject Part B coverage during the initial enrollment period.
Medicare Part B covers health care benefits ranging from yearly wellness exams to preventative services, which include vaccinations and cancer screenings.
The monthly premium for Medicare Part B is about $135.50 in 2019.1 However, your premium may be higher if your income is above a certain level.
When you use Medicare Part B, you have to pay a deductible before coverage kicks in. The Medicare Part B deductible, which you have to pay once a year, is $185 in 2019. If you use Medicare Part B, you will also have to pay a 20% co-insurance for the cost of your care.
Medicare Part C
Medicare Part C (also called Medicare Advantage) is insurance that covers the same things as Original Medicare, but it is provided by private companies and usually includes additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage, vision, dental, and wellness programs.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D is the Prescription Drug Coverage portion of Medicare. The plans are offered by private insurers and not the federal government. It is an optional add-on to Original Medicare to help cover prescription drug expenses.