Medicare Has Four Parts Categorized by Letter Designations.
Medicare Part A is your hospital insurance and helps cover medical expenses while you are staying in a hospital setting. Your exposure with Medicare Part A includes deductibles, coinsurance and co-pay expenses that can become pretty significant if you do not have supplementary coverage to Medicare. You will automatically be entitled to, and enrolled in, Part A at age 65 if you worked 40 quarters in the United States. You can also qualify for coverage through a spouse that worked 40 quarters.
Medicare Part B is coverage for outpatient medical services. You are exposed to a deductible, coinsurance, co-pays and excess charges if you don’t have a supplement for Medicare. This coverage is elective but most Medicare recipients take it. You will pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B that will be based on your income level. The current minimum premium is $104.90 a month.
Medicare Part C is a privatized plan that is also known as Medicare Advantage. You can choose to take this plan offered by private health insurers instead of Original Medicare. Although there are some benefits to this plan in that it is required to cover you as well as or better than Original Medicare, you will typically find that fewer doctors and hospitals accept this type of policy. Additionally, there isn’t a reliable way to supplement coverage for the out-of-pocket expenses in this plan. You will still have to pay your Medicare Part B premiums to own this type of policy and may pay anywhere from $0 additional to over $100/month for this type of plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will not be able to buy a Medicare Supplemental Insurance plan as Medicare Supplements are not intended to cover the gaps in Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare Part D was introduced in 2006 as a component of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. It provides coverage for prescription drug costs and is elective coverage. If you don’t take it when you are initially eligible and decide to enroll later, you can face some fairly stiff penalties. These plans have minimal standardization when it comes to important things like premiums, co-pays, coinsurance, deductibles and which drugs they’ll cover (known as formularies). Some may also be more restrictive than others in requiring step-therapy or limiting the amount you can order each month. The best way to determine which drug plan to enroll in is to call your local SHIIP representative or by contacting NC SHIIP (Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program) at (800) 443-9354 or visit the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov and use the Prescription Drug Plan Finder Tool.
Medicare Supplement Insurance Helpline: 1-800-290-6188