Medicare - A Brief Explanation

Medicare consists of four seperate parts: A, B, C, and D. There are also Supplemental Medicare plans.

  • Part A - everyone enrolls in this and there is no premium (it is free if you are eligible).
  • Part B - most people will enroll in this. In most cases you will have to pay a premium.
  • Part C - this is optional, it requires paying a premium. If you enroll in this you will not need to, not be eligible to, enroll in Part D or a Supplemental Plan
  • Part D - if you do not enroll in Part C, most people will enroll in this and a premium must be paid.
  • Supplemental Plan - many people will enroll in this and a premium must be paid.

Part A which covers Hospital costs (and limited Nursing Home stays and limited home health services after a hospitalization).

Most people enroll in Medicare Part B which pays for outpatient medical care, doctors visits, laboratory tests and some medical equipment.

Part C is for people who join a Medicare Advantage Plan. There are many different kinds of Plans which have different coverages. All of them have Prescription Drug coverage. In general, you must go to the Doctors and providers that participate in the particular Advantage Plan you sign up for.

Part D covers prescription drugs.

When you enroll for Medicare, you are enrolling automatically for Part A, and there is no cost to you if you are eligible. If you are eligible for Part A, you are automatically eligible for Part B, and if you are 65 and receiving Social Security checks, you are automatically enrolled for Part B (although you may opt out). For Part B, you have to pay a monthly fee which is usually taken out of your Social Security payment. For 2017, this fee is $134 per month, although the amount can vary depending on your income.

For a summary of Medicare Part D from the National Council on the Aging, click here: