What Are The Different Types Of Medicare?

If you are new to the Medicare system, you may not be familiar with the many different “Parts”, or plans available to the average consumer. It can be easy to get confused, especially with all the particular insurance terms commonly used. Before you select the kind of coverage you want, you should know what these types are and what kind of coverage each Medicare plan offers.

Medicare Part A

This is hospital insurance, which means it covers inpatient stays, some nursing homes, hospice care and home care. Medicare Part A does not generally have a premium payment associated with it, because most people pay Medicare taxes while they are employed. If you haven’t paid into the system, you may be eligible if you are 65 years old or older, have enrolled in Medicare Part B, and meet citizenship requirements.

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B is your medical insurance, which means that it covers doctors’ visits and other types of medical care. You will pay a premium for Part B, which is usually set at a standardized amount. In some cases, the Social Security Administration will contact Part B enrollees about paying based on income, but those are special cases. Part B covers medically necessary medical procedures and some preventative care.

Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans are exclusive of Medicare Parts A and B, and generally combine the two in some way. These plans are offered through private, Medicare-approved companies and operate similar to HMO or PPO insurance plans. Medicare will pay a fixed amount for your plan, and you will have premiums to pay. You will also be required to see only in-plan providers, which differ from plan to plan. Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover everything that Original Medicare does, except for hospice care.

Medicare Part D

Medicare offers prescription drug coverage through Part D. Generally speaking, you should enroll in Part D at the same time you enroll in Medicare, or you can be penalized with a late fee. The plans are run by private, Medicare-approved companies, and will vary in cost and coverage depending on the plan.

You will probably have a monthly premium, along with co-pays. The cost to you will depend on your plan and the kinds of medications you are getting. It is possible to get your premium payment deducted from your Social Security checks, but you must work that out with your drug plan coverage. It is against the law for any Medicare drug plan to have a yearly deductible of more than $320 for 2012.

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