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The ABCs of Medicare

Medicare consists of 4 parts (A, B, C, D) and chances are you’ve heard of them. But what does each mean for you and your healthcare coverage?

Part A helps cover inpatient hospitalization, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some home health care and prescription drugs administered in these settings.

Part B is often referred to as “supplemental medical insurance.” Part B helps to cover doctor office visits and outpatient care, including some therapy and home health care and prescription drugs administered in these settings.

Together, Parts A and B are sometimes referred to as “traditional” or “original” Medicare.

Part C is often referred to as “Medicare Advantage Plans” or “MA” Plans. These are plans offered by private insurance companies that are approved and paid by Medicare. They provide all of the services covered by Part A and Part B; some may also offer additional coverage in areas such as vision, dental and prescription drugs.

Part D, which became available in 2006, refers to prescription drug coverage plans. Part D is meant to absorb some of the high costs of prescription drugs with Medicare paying for about half of these expenses. Private insurance companies offer Medicare-approved Part D plans.

When it comes to choosing a Part D plan (and navigating Medicare overall), the information can be confusing. Each year, the “Medicare and You” handbook (which is mailed) shares information on plans in the state or region. Medicare participants can also call for assistance (1-800-MEDICARE).