Medicare Basics

Medicare Basics

Medicare is a Federal government-sponsored health program for Americans over age 65 and people under 65 with qualified disabilities.

Medicare has four "parts" A, B, C and D.

Part A: Hospital Insurance
Part A helps pay for some, but not all, inpatient hospital care, limited skilled nursing care, hospice care and other specified services.

Part B: Outpatient Insurance
Part B helps pay for some, but not all, doctors' fees, outpatient hospital visits and other specified medical services and supplies not covered by Part A.

Part C: Private Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, is offered by private companies as an alternative to Medicare Parts A and B. These plans cover the same expenses as Medicare. Sometimes they also include more coverage than Medicare, for example hearing or dental benefits. While some Medicare Advantage plans feature zero or low premiums, nearly all include significant co-payments at the time of service. This can make budgeting for healthcare costs more difficult. In addition, your healthcare provider choices are often limited.

Part D: Prescription Drug Insurance
Prescription drug plans or PDPs, help pay the cost of prescription medications. PDPs are offered by private insurance companies and pick up a portion of your prescription drug expenses. Because the medications covered vary by company and plan, it's important to review your medications with your representative to be sure you have the most cost-effective plan to fit your needs.

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Among people 65 and older, about 5 percent managed to get through the year without seeing a doctor, going to an emergency room, or having a healthcare professional treat them at home.
Source:  U.S. News & World Report