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What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older. There are a variety of Medicare programs. These resemble alphabet soup because they are referred to as Parts A, B, C and D.


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Part A & B - Original Medicare includes what is referred to as Part A & B coverage. Part A coverage is for hospital and facility services and provides limited coverage for inpatient care in a hospital, skilled nursing facility or hospice, and some home health care. For most people, there is no monthly premium. Part B covers physician services and limited coverage for outpatient care. Part B is optional and requires a monthly premium.

Part C - Medicare Advantage Plans are referred to as Part C and replace your Original Medicare coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans typically offer extra benefits and coverage that go beyond what Original Medicare can offer- more often than not, at a lower cost. These plans are offered through Medicare approved private companies. Medicare Advantage Plans provide all of the same assurances, rights and protections that Original Medicare offers.

Part D - A Medicare recipient needing prescription drug coverage must also enroll in Medicare Part D. Only private companies approved by Medicare offer Part D plans and require an additional monthly premium. Medicare Advantage plans can offer Part D coverage along with Parts A & B, providing comprehensive coverage under a single plan for a single monthly premium.

Page Last Updated: July 5, 2011

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