What are the parts of Medicare?

Medicare Part A—hospital insurance

Part A can help cover many services you receive in a hospital or long-term care setting. Here are a few examples of inpatient care covered by Part A:

What does Medicare Part A cover?

Part A can help cover many services you receive in a hospital or long-term care setting. Here are a few examples of inpatient care covered by Part A:

For more details, see Medicare Part A costs and coverage.

Medicare Part B—medical insurance

Medicare Part B, also known as medical insurance, is the other half of Original Medicare.

What does Medicare Part B cover?

Part B offers coverage for doctor visits and outpatient care. Some examples of what’s covered by Part B include:

  • Medically necessary doctors’ services
  • Outpatient care (even if you receive that care in a hospital)
  • Chiropractic care, if medically necessary
  • Home health services

For more information, check Medicare Part B costs and coverage.

A description of the parts of Medicare including Part A, Part B, Part C, Part D and Medicare Supplement insurance.

There are many parts of Medicare, each with their own costs and types of coverage. Part A can help cover many services you receive in a hospital or long-term care setting. Part B offers coverage for doctor visits and outpatient care. Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage (MA), covers all the services of Part A and Part B and can be customized with extra benefits. Part D plans are optional private insurance plans that offer coverage for prescription drugs. And last, Medicare Supplement insurance plans, also called Medigap plans, help pay for out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare doesn’t pay.

Medicare Part C—Medicare Advantage

Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage (MA), are optional private insurance plans offered by Medicare-approved companies.

What does Medicare Part C cover?

Medicare Advantage plans cover all the inpatient and outpatient services covered by Medicare Part A and Part B. However, since they’re offered by private companies, Medicare Advantage plans can offer extra benefits such as:

  • Routine dental care (dental exams, X-rays, teeth cleanings)
  • Routine vision care (eye exams, eyeglasses and contacts)
  • Routine hearing care (hearing tests, coverage toward hearing aids)
  • Gym memberships

To learn more, explore our Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Part D—prescription drug coverage

Medicare Part D plans are optional private insurance plans provided through companies approved by the federal government.

What does Medicare Part D cover?

Each Medicare Part D plan uses a list of approved drugs to decide what’s covered and what isn’t. This list is called a drug formulary. The formulary may differ from plan to plan. Many plans arrange their list of covered drugs in different levels, called “tiers”. Generally, drugs in a lower tier will cost less than drugs in a higher tier. Here is one example of a typical Medicare drug plan’s tier system (but remember, your plan may be different):

  • Tier 1 - Preferred Generic: Generic or brand drugs that are available at the lowest cost share for the plan
  • Tier 2 - Generic: Generic or brand drugs that the plan offers at a higher cost to you than Tier 1 Preferred Generic drugs
  • Tier 3 - Preferred Brand: Generic or brand drugs that the plan offers at a lower cost to you than Tier 4 Non-Preferred drugs
  • Tier 4 - Non-Preferred Drug: Generic or brand drugs that the plan offers at a higher cost to you than Tier 3 Preferred Brand drugs
  • Tier 5 - Specialty Tier: Some Injectables and other high-cost drugs
  • Tier 6 - Select Care Drugs: Select generic and brand drugs used to treat certain chronic conditions

For more information, including what drugs are not covered by Part D, check out Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap)

Medicare Supplement insurance plans, also known as Medigap plans, help pay for out-of-pocket costs Original Medicare doesn’t pay, such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. There are 10 different types of Medicare Supplement plans offered in most states. The plans are named by letters: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N. Plans with the same letter can be sold by different insurance companies at different prices.

What do Medicare Supplement plans cover?

Each Medigap plan provides a range of benefits to help you choose the best plan for your needs.

Some basic benefits include:

  • Part A coinsurance and hospital costs up to an additional 365 extra days after Medicare benefits are used
  • Part B coinsurance or copayment
  • Blood (first 3 pints)
  • Part A hospice care coinsurance or copayment

Additional benefits in certain plans may include:

  • Skilled nursing facility care coinsurance
  • Part A deductible
  • Part B deductible
  • Part B excess charge

To see the different types of Medigap plans and what each plan covers, explore these details on Medicare Supplement plans.

The parts of Medicare explained

We hope you have a better understanding of how the parts of Medicare work. For additional information, see these Medicare FAQs.

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