Skip to the content

Parts of Medicare (A, B, C, and D)

Medicare coverage can be remarkably confusing when you’re signing up for the first time. However, the most important element of the Medicare program is the four core parts. Parts A, B, C, and D provide Medicare coverage for hospital visits, medically necessary care, and prescription drugs. However, they also offer you the ability to take your Medicare benefits to a private insurance provider.

Part A is the first half of traditional Medicare coverage. It covers hospital rooms and various forms of care such as home health care and hospice. Additionally, Part A coverage is free of charge for most citizens and residents who qualify for Medicare. It doesn’t cover most medical expenses, which is where Part B comes into play.

The other half of traditional Medicare is Part B. Part B provides coverage for medically necessary outpatient services such as preventative care, surgeries, and radiation therapy. Part B is an essential complement to Part A if you intend to use traditional Medicare as your principal source of healthcare coverage.

While A and B combined represent a fairly robust healthcare plan, many beneficiaries use supplemental plans. You can pay a premium for supplemental Medigap plans that fill in the gaps where Parts A and B don’t cover your needs. This way, you can make full use of your Medicare benefits and receive all of the care that you need. Your other option is choosing a Medicare Advantage plan under Part C.

While Parts A, B, and D provide specific medical benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, Part C enables you to use your Medicare benefits to purchase private insurance. Bill Clinton’s administration passed the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 which created private Medicare insurance. Private Medicare insurance, Part C, and Medicare Advantage are all different terms for the same type of healthcare coverage.

Instead of using Parts A and B with Medigap plans, you can shop around for a Medicare Part C plan that suits your needs. If you choose a private Medicare provider, then you’ll receive all of your health insurance from that provider rather than the various parts of Medicare. Exact coverage varies, as some Medicare Advantage plans also provide Part D coverage.

There’s no clear-cut choice between Medigap or Medicare Advantage. Whether one is better for you than the other depends on your unique needs, circumstances, and priorities.

In 2006, a new policy empowered Medicare to provide coverage for drug costs. While the specifics vary by state and each individual plan, Part D is often extremely cheap. While prescription drugs often cost uninsured individuals thousands of dollars a year, the premium for a Medicare drug plan may be less than $20 a month. Part D is optional, but the costs are remarkably low and the value can be extremely high. As such, the Medicare Health Experts strongly recommend incorporating Part D into your healthcare coverage.