Medicare is a vital component of the healthcare system in the United States, providing health coverage to those aged 65 and older, as well as certain younger individuals with disabilities or particular diseases like End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Medicare is categorized into different parts, each serving a specific purpose: Parts A, B, C, and D. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of these parts and highlight the differences between them.

Medicare Part A: Hospital Insurance

Medicare Part A, often referred to as hospital insurance, provides coverage for inpatient hospital stays, care in skilled nursing facilities, hospice care, and some home health care.

Key Features:

  • Coverage: Inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and limited home health care.
  • Cost: Generally, most people don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A if they or their spouse paid Medicare taxes while working. However, there may be deductibles and/or co-payments involved for the services covered by Part A.
    • According to, in 2023, the Medicare Part A deductible is $1,600 per “benefit period.” That means if you end one hospital stay but end up back in the hospital 61 days later, you may be required to pay multiple deductibles in a single calendar year.
    • Long hospital or skilled nursing facility stays often result in co-payments. For example, days 61-90 in a hospitals result in a $400 per day co-payment; days 21-100 in a skilled nursing facility result in a $200 per day co-payment. These can add up fast!
  • Eligibility: Individuals aged 65 or older, or younger with qualifying disabilities.

Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance

Part B, or medical insurance, covers certain outpatient care, physician services, preventive services, and some home health care.

Key Features:

  • Coverage: Outpatient care, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, laboratory tests, mental health services, and preventive services.
  • Cost: Monthly premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance.
    • The premiums may vary based on income. If you’re still working, or only recently retired, the premiums can be pricey.
    • The Part B deductible for 2023 is $226 for the year, with no benefit periods.
    • Co-insurance for most services is 20% of the charge.
  • Eligibility: Generally the same as Part A, but enrollment is optional.

Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage

Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is a bundled option that replaces the coverages offered through Parts A and B, and often times Part D as well. It’s offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. There are several ways Medicare Advantage plans differ from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) by itself.

Key Features:

  • Coverage: Everything covered under Parts A and B, and often includes prescription drug coverage (Part D). May include extra benefits like vision, hearing, and dental.
  • Cost: Varies by plan and provider. Monthly premiums are often charged for Medicare Advantage plans, which must be paid in addition to the Part B premium.
  • Eligibility: Must be enrolled in Parts A and B, and live in the plan’s service area.

Medicare Advantage plans typically offer a number of benefits that make them a very popular choice for those that are eligible for Medicare.

Medicare Part D: Prescription Drug Coverage

Part D adds prescription drug coverage to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and is offered through private insurance companies.

Key Features:

  • Coverage: Prescription medications, with specific drugs covered varying by plan.
  • Cost: Monthly premiums, deductibles, and co-pays or co-insurance. Costs vary by plan and income.
  • Eligibility: Must be enrolled in Part A and/or B and live in the plan’s service area.

While many Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage as a part of the same plan, if you enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan you should consider adding a separate Part D plan to help limit your prescription drug costs.

Comparing the Parts: A Summary

  1. Nature of Coverage:
    • A: Primarily hospital stays and inpatient care.
    • B: Outpatient care and preventive services.
    • C: A comprehensive bundle of A, B, and often D.
    • D: Prescription drug coverage.
  2. Provider:
    • A & B: Provided by the federal government.
    • C & D: Offered by private insurance companies.
  3. Cost Structure:
    • A: Usually premium-free, with deductibles and insurance.
    • B: Monthly premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance.
    • C: Varies by plan and includes premiums for Part B.
    • D: Monthly premiums, deductibles, and co-pays or co-insurance.
  4. Eligibility:
    • A & B: Similar eligibility, though Part B enrollment is optional.
    • C: Requires enrollment in A and B.
    • D: Requires enrollment in A and/or B.


Understanding the differences between Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D is essential for selecting the right coverage for one’s unique healthcare needs. From hospital stays to outpatient care, from prescription medications to comprehensive bundled packages, Medicare offers coverage options which may or may not be the best option for your needs.

Considering factors like cost, coverage, and eligibility is vital when navigating this complex landscape. We strongly recommend you consult with a licensed agent to go over the specific facts of your situation to help choose the best option for you.

If you’re ready to take the next step on your Medicare journey, we are here to help. Give us a call today at 888.970.2940 to speak with a licensed agent and learn more about your options.

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