Whether you’ve just become eligible for Medicare or have been enrolled for years, sometimes keeping the different parts of the program straight and navigating all of your options can be a confusing task. When enrolling or changing your plan, it’s important to take the time to consider your health care needs and compare options to ensure you’re getting the best possible coverage at the best price.
Medicare Parts A, B, C and D each represent different health coverage options. To help you understand what each plan covers and figure out what may work best for you, we’ve put together a summary of each below.
The ABCDs of Medicare
Medicare Part A: Part A (hospital insurance) is federally administered coverage for a variety of patient care oriented health services. Part A is what covers your hospital care, nursing facilities, some home health services and hospice care. You’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A when you turn 65, and unlike other elements of the program, you cannot opt out.
Medicare Part B: Part B (medical insurance) is also federally administered and offers sen
iors two types of medical services: necessary and preventative. Necessary medical services include doctor visits and supplies that are required to treat or diagnose medical conditions such wheelchairs, inhalers or x-rays. Health care services to prevent illness, such as vaccinations, are also covered through Part B. Unlike Part A, you can opt out of Medicare Part B but you should consider it carefully because if you choose to sign up for Part B coverage at a later date, you’ll have to pay a penalty.
Medicare Part C: More commonly known as Medicare Advantage, these are private health plans that provide combined coverage for both Part A and B benefits. These plans include Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). They can also cover prescription drugs and additional services like eye and dental benefits.
Medicare Part D: Part D plans cover outpatient prescription drugs and are administered by private insurance plans. Each state has a wide variety of Part D plans to choose from including different co-payments, premiums and formularies. No matter where you live in the United States you can choose a plan that works best for you.
Open enrollment for Medicare runs from October 15 to December 7. During this time period, be sure to research and compare plans to find the best coverage for your individual needs at a price that won’t break the bank. To learn more about the different components of the Medicare program, visit Medicare.gov.