How Many Different Parts of Medicare?

There are four parts of Medicare: Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D.

  • Part A provides inpatient/hospital coverage.
  • Part B provides outpatient/medical coverage.
  • Part C offers an alternate way to receive your Medicare benefits (see below for more information).
  • Part D provides prescription drug coverage.

Generally, the different parts of Medicare help cover specific services. Most beneficiaries choose to receive their Parts A and B benefits through Original Medicare, the traditional fee-for-service program offered directly through the federal government. It is sometimes called Traditional Medicare or Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare. Under Original Medicare, the government pays directly for the health care services you receive. You can see any doctor and hospital that takes Medicare (and most do) anywhere in the country.

In Original Medicare:

  • You go directly to the doctor or hospital when you need care. You do not need to get prior permission/authorization from Medicare or your primary care doctor.
  • You are responsible for a monthly premium for Part B. Some also pay a premium for Part A.
  • You typically pay a coinsurance for each service you receive.
  • There are limits on the amounts that doctors and hospitals can charge for your care.

If you want prescription drug coverage with Original Medicare, in most cases you will need to actively choose and join a stand-alone Medicare private drug plan (PDP).

Note: There are a number of government programs that may help reduce your health care and prescription drug costs if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Unless you choose otherwise, you will have Original Medicare. Instead of Original Medicare, you can decide to get your Medicare benefits from a Medicare Advantage Plan, also called Part C or Medicare private health plan. Remember, you still have Medicare if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. This means that you must still pay your monthly Part B premium (and your Part A premium if you have one). Each Medicare Advantage Plan must provide all Part A and Part B services covered by Original Medicare, but they can do so with different rules, costs, and restrictions that can affect how and when you receive care.

Read More: What is Medicare Part A?
Learn About: What is Medicare Part B?
Return to: Medicare Basics

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