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The Ultimate Guide to Medicare

Medicare has several parts. Medicare Parts A and B are the original components. Parts A and B are Federally provided coverage to help with medical expenses, generally for those who are 65 and older.
Medicare Parts C and D, along with Medigap, are supplemental coverage that can be purchased to compliment original Medicare.

What is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A is health insurance for hospital-related expenses. It is provided by the United States government to citizens and legal immigrants over 65.

If you are over 65 and have worked for a least 10 years paying Medicare taxes, you qualify for premium-free Part A coverage.

You can still buy into Medicare Part A if you are over 65 but don’t qualify for the premium-free version. Additionally, certain disabilities can qualify you before the age 65

Benefits of Medicare Part A include:

  • Hospital stays
  • Nursing care
  • Hospice
  • Home-health care

Medicare Part A qualifies as minimum essential coverage. It satisfies the law that requires people to have health insurance.

Learn more about Medicare Part A

What is Medicare Part B?

Medicare Part B is outpatient insurance. It is provided by the United States government to citizens and legal immigrants over 65.

Individuals who are eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A are also eligible to enroll in Part B.

Benefits of Medicare Part B include:

  • Doctor’s visits
  • Emergency ambulance services
  • Lab work
  • X-rays
  • Outpatient surgeries
  • Preventive services
  • Medical equipment

Learn more about Medicare Part B

What is Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)?

Medicare Part C plans are often called Medicare Advantage plans or MA plans.

These Medicare-approved private insurance plans are for people already enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.

They offer all the benefits of Medicare Part A and B, plus additional services for a premium.

Additional Benefits usually included in Medicare Part C

  • Vision
  • Dental
  • Hearing

Prescription drugs are covered separately in Medicare Part D but may be packaged with the purchase of a Medicare Advantage plan.

Learn more about Medicare Part C and Medicare Advantage plans

What is Medicare Part D?

Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage that is supplemental to those with Medicare Part A and Part B.
Original Medicare doesn’t cover most of your medications. Part A covers drugs you get as a hospital inpatient only. Part B covers drugs you get as an outpatient, in very limited cases, like infusion drugs.

Medicare Part D covers a much wider of Prescription Drugs taken at home.

The drugs that are covered by a Medicare Part D plan and their pricing are listed in the plan’s formulary, which you can request before purchase.

Learn more about Medicare Part D

What is Medigap (Medicare Supplement)?

Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, is additional private insurance that helps pay for the “gaps” in Medicare Part A and B.

Individuals with Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage), cannot get a Medigap plan.

General Benefits of a Medigap plan

  • Routine vision or dental care
  • Hearing aids
  • Eyeglasses
  • Private-duty nursing

There are currently ten different types of Medigap plans, and each state approves a set of coverage options. These plans vary in their coverage, deductibles, and premiums. Choosing the right one can take a lot of research.

See our guide for more information. Learn more about Medigap plans

Not Eligible for Medicare?

Medicare is generally only for available those who are 65 years of age or older, with some exceptions made for those with disabilities. Medicare recipients also must be citizens of the United States or legal residents.

If you are not currently eligible for Medicare, you still need health insurance. Please look at our guide for how to get health insurance

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