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The Four Different Parts of Medicare

Many people new to Medicare can find it overwhelming. There are four different parts that offer different types of coverage. Understanding what these four plans cover can help to ensure you have the right level of coverage for your health needs. 

HealthPlans of NC

Health Plans of NC, Kelly Quinn

What Medicare Part A offers

Medicare Part A provides hospital coverage, including a semi-private room, meals, and medical services during your hospital stay. It also offers coverage for blood transfusions when you require more than 3 pints of blood. 

If you’ve worked in the US for at least 10 years, Medicare Part A is free. Some treatments or tests in hospitals fall under Medicare Part B, which is why it’s important to consider enrolling in both Medicare Part A and B to provide the best coverage. 

What Medicare Part B provides

Our NC Medicare agents are often asked, ‘What is Part B of Medicare?’. Part B covers outpatient services, including doctor’s visits, ambulance rides, lab tests, surgeries, preventative care, and other services. These services can occur in hospitals but fall under Part B because hospital doctors and physicians provide them. Sometimes working out what falls under in-patient versus outpatient care can be challenging.

Medicare Parts A and B make up what’s commonly called Original or Traditional Medicare. You can enroll in Original Medicare via your local Social Security office or through their website. The cost of Medicare Part B premiums varies each year and depends on how much you earn. We recommend enrolling in Medicare Part B if Medicare will be your primary (or only) coverage. 

What Medicare Part C offers

Medicare Part C, otherwise known as Medicare Advantage, is a private insurance plan approved by Medicare. You can choose Medicare Advantage as an alternative to Original Medicare. Your premiums and co-payment amounts can vary based on your plan provider, the type of plan, and where you live. 

Medicare Advantage plans usually have a preferred provider network where you can obtain care. Enrolling in Medicare Advantage is entirely voluntary, though you will need to be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to be eligible to enroll. If you’ve been asking around to find out what part of Medicare covers dental services, then it’s good to know that many Medicare Advantage plans offer both dental and vision benefits.

If you’re interested in finding out more information about Blue Cross NC Medicare Advantage plans, our local NC agents can help answer your questions about which plans include dental and a range of other services.

What Medicare Part D provides

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage, and helps to reduce the cost of drugs. Like Medicare Advantage plans, you can enroll in a Part D plan through a private insurance provider that offers plans in your area. Taking out a Medicare Part D plan means you can expect to pay lower copays on prescription drugs than if you had no insurance. 

The costs of Medicare Part D can vary depending on your plan type, and it’s a good idea to check the formulary list with your plan provider. This list includes all the drugs covered under the plan. In addition, we recommend that you find out about in-network and out-of-network pharmacies if you’re considering Part D coverage. 

How to determine what parts of Medicare are right for you

If you’re relying solely on Medicare and not planning on taking out any private health insurance, then it’s recommended for you to enroll in both Parts A and B to provide a basic level of coverage for your health needs.  You should also enroll in a Part D plan, even if you aren’t taking any prescriptions.  If you delay enrollment, you could pay a late enrollment penalty if you need to enroll in a Part D plan in the future.

Enrolling in both A and B also means you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan if you’re interested in additional coverage for services like vision and dental. Many Medicare Advantage plans also include Part D coverage in the plan. If you think you’ll need assistance paying for prescription drugs, and are interested in a Medicare Advantage plan, look for one that includes coverage for prescription drugs.  Otherwise, we recommend taking out a separate Medicare Part D plan which could save you money in the long term.  No matter which plan you choose, make sure your prescriptions are on the formulary.

Need help to understand what coverage you need?

Our Medicare agents in North Carolina can help explain what are different parts of Medicare and determine the best plan for your needs. Our dedicated team is experienced at answering questions like ‘What part of Medicare covers long term hospitalization’ and ‘What is the cost of Medicare Part D?’. So get in touch with us today or compare plans online to find out more. 

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