The Four Parts of Medicare
Medicare has four parts: A, B, C, and D.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) offers Original Medicare, which includes Medicare Part A (hospital care) and Part B (doctor visits). However, many people find they need more coverage than what Original Medicare provides. For example, you might want dental, vision, and hearing insurance, or prescription drug coverage. This is where Medicare Part C (a Medicare Advantage plan) and Part D (a prescription drug plan) come in.
After you enroll in Original Medicare Part A and B, you can sign up for Part C and/or Part D through a private insurance company like Amerigroup. Original Medicare does not offer Part C or Part D plans.
Medicare Part A (one part of Original Medicare) covers hospital stays and some at-home care. Part A is important in case you have an unexpected injury or sudden illness that requires inpatient care. Keep in mind that Medicare Part A does not include coverage for prescription drugs.
Medicare Part B (the other part of Original Medicare) includes doctor visits, medical tests, X-rays, medical supplies, and long-term preventive care. It provides coverage for the healthcare visits that help you stay healthy. Like Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B does not include coverage for prescription drugs.
Medicare Part C (also called a Medicare Advantage plan) is an all-in-one plan that combines Part A and B, and usually includes Part D. Most Medicare Advantage plans also include coverage for dental, vision, and hearing aids.
Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs, which are not included in Part A or Part B. Part D is important if you have regular medications for a condition such as high blood pressure.
If you do not enroll in a Part D plan or a plan that includes Part D and you do not have creditable coverage for your drugs, you will incur a penalty for every month you were eligible and did not enroll.