Skip Navigation Links

Medicare Options

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the nation’s largest health insurance program, covering 40 million Americans. It was designed to provide high quality health care to people 65 and over, as well as to others with disabilities.

What are the Medicare parts?

Medicare has four main parts – A, B, C, and D. They cover certain medical services and prescription medications, as well as supplies in hospitals, doctors’ offices and other health care facilities.

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. It is provided by the government, usually with no monthly premium.

Medicare Part B is optional medical insurance for which you pay an additional monthly premium that usually comes out of your Social Security benefits. It covers doctor, outpatient hospital, diagnostic tests, ambulance, durable medical equipment, and other home health care services that are not covered under Medicare Part A.

Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage. When you select Part C instead of Part A and Part B, you could get the same or greater benefits – and some extras like wellness, vision, hearing and dental care from a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans "take the place of" your Original Medicare coverage. In other words, when you join an MA plan, you become a member of that plan and no longer need to use your red, white and blue Original Medicare card. You still must pay your Medicare Part B premium; however, your MA plan becomes your primary insurer.

When you become 65 and you do not enroll in any other type of plan, you will have Original Medicare coverage (Part A and Part B). Original Medicare coverage by itself does not include prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. Everyone with Medicare can get prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Supplement plan (sometimes known as Medigap coverage) can be added if you have Original Medicare. This plan allows you to get coverage in addition to Parts A and B. It helps you pay for some benefits not covered by Original Medicare (Parts A and B), including deductibles and coinsurance payments. This type of coverage enables you to visit doctors and hospitals of your choice. Medicare Supplement does not include Part D coverage.

Last Updated: 9/3/2014