Every Medicare Coverage Option, Explained

Doctor explaining something to elderly patient

By Nathaniel McKissick

Reaching 65 years of age is a huge milestone, and certainly one worth celebrating. You’ve reached the venerable golden years of your life and you’re nearing retirement. However, a deadline comes along with this revered milestone. It’s time to enroll in Medicare.

But what is Medicare and what do the different parts of Medicare cover? We’ll answer all these questions and more below.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a national government health insurance program for people aged 65 and older.* At its conception in 1965, the Social Security Administration oversaw the program, but it is now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Medicare has four parts, each of which we will explain below.

Medicare Part A

Part A of Medicare covers inpatient and hospital coverage plus any related services. These types of services include hospice care if you are terminally ill, and any hospital care after being formally admitted to a hospital by a physician.

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B covers doctor appointments and outpatient medical care. Additionally, it helps cover home health care (but not long-term care) and preventative services like vaccines and annual checkups.

Parts A and B are often grouped together, and this package is known more commonly as Original Medicare. Original Medicare is accepted by any doctor or hospital in the U.S. that takes Medicare.

Medicare Part C

Also commonly known as Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part C is offered as an alternative to Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage is offered by a private company that covers your health and drug coverage. Medicare Advantage often includes a bundle of Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) plus Part D.

Medicare Advantage may have lower out-of-pocket costs than Original Medicare and sometimes offers additional benefits not included in Original Medicare – like hearing, vision, and dental benefits. However, only in-network providers are covered under Medicare Advantage.

Medicare Part D

Part D of Medicare covers self-administered prescription drugs and many shots or vaccines. To receive this benefit, recipients of Medicare must sign up for a stand-alone Prescription-Drug-Plan in addition to Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage.

The multiple parts of Medicare can be confusing, but hopefully this article has been helpful and will leave you feeling prepared for when it comes time for you to enroll! (b, 2003)

For more information, visit Medicare’s official website at www.medicare.gov.



*Exceptions apply for those who are under the age of 65 that live with certain illnesses or disabilities.

Nathaniel McKissick is a non-registered representative of Cetera Networks LLC. The opinions contained in this material are those of the author, and not a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell investment products. This information is from sources believed to be reputable, but Cetera Advisor Networks LLC cannot guarantee or represent that it is accurate or complete.

“Parts of Medicare.” Medicare.gov, n.d., https://www.medicare.gov/basics/get-started-with-medicare/medicare-basics/parts-of-medicare. Accessed 02 Nov. 2023.

“The Parts of Medicare.” Medicare Rights Center, n.d., https://www.medicareinteractive.org/get-answers/medicare-basics/medicare-coverage-overview/original-medicare. Accessed 02 Nov. 2023.

“Basic Introduction to Medicare.” Center for Medicare Advocacy, n.d., https://medicareadvocacy.org/medicare-info/medicare-basics-2/. Accessed 02 Nov. 2023.

Bogle, Darlynda. “Medicare, A Simple Explanation.” Social Security Administration, n.d., https://blog.ssa.gov/medicare-a-simple-explanation/. Accessed 02 Nov. 2023.

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