Two couples smiling with a ferris wheel in the background

What Is Medicare?

Medicare is health insurance for people aged 65 and over and people with specific disabilities. It’s a national health insurance program that is divided into four parts. Each of these parts fits together uniquely to provide different types of coverage for your health needs.

HealthPlans of NC

Health Plans of NC, Kelly Quinn

How did Medicare start?

President Lyndon Johnson endorsed the first Medicare bill in July 1965. The bill allowed people 65 and over to receive health coverage via a national health care program. Initially, Medicare only covered hospital and outpatient medical services. However, over time, coverage has been extended to more services and people.

As of 2020, over 62 million people, around 18% of the US population, are enrolled in Medicare. In North Carolina, approximately 15% of the state’s population is enrolled in Medicare.

The Parts Of Medicare

There are four main components of Medicare. Medicare Part A and Part B cover around 80% of people’s health expenses. However, you can purchase additional policies to help fill the gaps that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. 

What is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A covers hospital expenses, helping pay for services including skilled nursing facility stays, hospice care, inpatient care, and home health care. In addition, it provides coverage for your room and board while in the hospital. Medicare Part A is premium-free if you or your spouse have been employed and paid taxes for at least ten years. 

What is Medicare Part B?

Medicare Part B provides coverage for various outpatient services, including many different types of treatments, such as lab work, scans, and preventative services. It also covers doctor visits. Part B can also cover expensive treatments such as cancer therapy or kidney dialysis. 

The costs for Medicare Part B vary each year and depend on your income level. People with higher incomes can expect to pay more premiums than those with lower incomes. How much you must pay is adjusted each year based on the income reported to the IRS.

What is Medicare Part C?

Part C is better known as the Medicare Advantage program, a private insurance plan you choose. Premiums and other costs can vary depending on the provider, where you live, and the type of plan. 

You need to be enrolled in both Part A and Part B to be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, which replaces your Original Medicare. You also need to live in the plan’s service area. Once enrolled, your coverage comes from an approved Medicare plan provider. It is not a government program like Medicare.

Medicare Part C is voluntary. You can choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Alternatively, you may wish to continue receiving coverage from Original Medicare and enroll in a Medigap policy like Plan G, which helps cover the gap for any out-of-pocket services not covered by Medicare.

If you live in North Carolina and want to know more about Blue Cross NC Medicare Advantage plans, our dedicated local agents can help.

What is Medicare Part D?

Medicare Part D is the newest part of Medicare, which helps provide coverage for retail prescription drugs. For many years, no Medicare coverage was provided for prescription drugs. In 2006, the federal government presented Part D, and there are now around 30 drug plans available in most states. It is important to review prescription formularies for your Part D plan to make sure your medications are covered.

With so many Medicare options, talking to one of our experienced Medicare agents can be beneficial. We service all of North Carolina and can help you find the right plan for your needs.

What Medicare Doesn’t Cover

There are some services and items that Medicare doesn’t cover. These typically include: 

  • Routine vision and dental care

  • Plastic surgery

  • Medicare outside of the US

  • Dentures and hearing aids

  • Long-term care requirements

  • Massage therapy

Need assistance with Medicare?

If you’re interested in learning more about North Carolina Medicare, including its different parts, our Medicare agents in NC are here to help. We can provide information on the basic benefits of Medicare and help you choose the best plan. Contact us today or compare plans online.

Ready to get started?

See plans and pricing today.