What are the Four Letters of Medicare?
Initially, Medicare was a government-funded program. It sought to provide health insurance to the elderly, who often struggled to pay for care. However, it has grown to include both publicly funded and private insurance options. Most people recognize Medicare for its letter designations: Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D plans. These are different benefits that cover different types of medical services. Here’s how they work.
Medicare Part A & Medicare Part B: Original Medicare
Original Medicare is the standard Medicare for which most people over age 65 (and certain others) qualify. It consists of two parts – Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
Part A: Also called hospital insurance, this coverage will pay for portions of your care when you go to a hospital. Most policies cover costs of rooms, surgeries, treatments and other inpatient expenses. They can also cover costs related to rehabilitation or nursing home care.
Part B: This portion of your coverage is your medical insurance. It pays for expenses needed to diagnose or treat medical conditions. These might include costs of physician visits, mental health services, medical equipment and other preventive services.
Most people choose to enroll in both Part A & Part B coverage at the same time. Many pay no premium for their Part A, though they usually will pay a Part B premium. Some people have their Part B premiums deducted automatically from other benefits, like Social Security. Each coverage will have certain cost sharing obligations. Policyholders can often receive certain care at no cost, however.
Medicare Part C Coverage: Medicare Advantage Plans
Original Medicare does not cover every type of health care services. As a result, many people choose to buy expanded benefits through a Medicare Advantage Plan, also called Medicare Part C.
Medicare Part C plans are policies offered by private insurance companies. By law, they must offer at least the same benefits as Original Medicare. However, they usually offer expanded coverage such as:
Prescription drug insurance
Part C coverage will essentially take the place of Original Medicare. However, policyholders are still technically Medicare enrollees. A premium and other cost obligations will still apply.
Medicare Part D: Prescription Drug Plans
Original Medicare will only pay for a limited amount of prescription benefits. For more coverage, you can choose to buy a Part D Prescription Drug Plan. This is a private plan that will help you get expanded benefits to meet your medication cost needs. You cannot buy Part D coverage and Part C coverage at the same time. However, Original Medicare participants still qualify.
If you want guidance on the types of Medicare that are best for you, then talk to one of Professor Medicare’s agents today. We can help you determine which Original Medicare and other benefits are best for you.
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