Wondering what a Medicare “part” is?
Learn about Medicare Parts A, B, C and D, and how to fit these parts together to get the right coverage.
Part A: Helps with hospital and inpatient care.
Original Medicare, comprised of Medicare Parts A and B, is offered through the U.S. government. Part A helps pay for "medically necessary" hospital care. You may be sick or have a medical condition that requires a hospital stay. It also helps pay for a stay in a skilled nursing facility after a hospital stay. Part A also covers blood transfusions, hospice care for the terminally ill and some skilled home health care for those confined to the home.
Part B: Helps with doctor and outpatient care.
Medicare Part B helps pay for "medically necessary" outpatient care for illnesses or medical conditions. This includes services like doctor visits, and outpatient care in hospitals and clinics. It can also include laboratory tests and some diagnostic screenings, and some skilled nursing care at home.
Part C: Combines hospital coverage and outpatient medical coverage in a single plan.
Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies. They combine coverage for hospital stays and doctor visits. Medicare Advantage plans may also include extra benefits like routine vision and hearing exams, and gym memberships. Depending on where you live, you can choose a plan that includes Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage—often at no additional premium.
Important: You need to be enrolled in Original Medicare before you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. And once you're a member of a Medicare Advantage plan, you have to continue to pay your Part B premium.
Part D: Helps pay for prescription medications.
Original Medicare doesn’t include prescription drug coverage. So if you want coverage for your prescription drugs, you need to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. You can choose either a “standalone” Part D plan, or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D coverage. Part D plans are offered by private insurance companies.
Important: If you wait until after you first become eligible for Medicare to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan, you may have to pay more each month for your premium. So, depending on your situation, it may make sense to enroll on time to avoid Medicare's late enrollment penalty.
Medicare supplement insurance: Helps pay some of the costs Original Medicare does not pay.
Medicare supplement insurance plans help pay for things like Part A and B deductibles, some preventive care, coinsurance and more. Plans and availability vary by state. They are offered by private health insurance companies.
Get more help sorting through your plan choices. Trying to decide between Original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan? What about a Part D plan, or Medicare supplement insurance? Compare your choices side-by-side, and see how different plans can fit together.
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Learn about AARP® Medicare plans from UnitedHealthcare®.
The family of UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Solutions plans are insured or covered by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliates, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract and a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor.
Last updated: 7.3.2013 at 12:01PM CT | Y0066_130503_150038 Accepted