What are the parts of Medicare?
The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:
- Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.
- Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.
- Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)
Helps cover the cost of prescription drugs (including many recommended shots or vaccines).
Part A & Part B Premiums
- Most people don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A.
You usually don't pay a monthly premium for Part A if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for a certain amount of time. This is sometimes called "premium-free Part A."
- If you don't qualify for premium-free Part A, you can buy Part A.
If you aren't eligible for premium-free Part A, you may be able to buy Part A. You'll pay up to $505 each month in 2024. If you paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters, the standard Part A premium is $505. If you paid Medicare taxes for 30–39 quarters, the standard Part A premium is $278.
- Everyone pays a monthly premium for Part B.
Most people will pay the standard Part B premium amount. The standard Part B premium amount in 2024 is $174.70. If your modified adjusted gross income as reported on your IRS tax return from 2 years ago is above a certain amount, you'll pay the standard premium amount and an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). IRMAA is an extra charge added to your premium.
How does Medicare work?
With Medicare, you have options in how you get your coverage. Once you enroll, you’ll need to decide how you’ll get your Medicare coverage. There are 2 main ways:
- Original Medicare
Original Medicare includes Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). You pay for services as you get them. When you get services, you’ll pay a deductible at the start of each year, and you usually pay 20% of the cost of the Medicare-approved service, called coinsurance. If you want drug coverage, you can add a separate drug plan (Part D).
Original Medicare pays for much, but not all, of the cost for covered health care services and supplies. A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy can help pay some of the remaining health care costs, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Some Medigap policies also cover services that Original Medicare doesn't cover, like emergency medical care when you travel outside the U.S.
- Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage is Medicare-approved plan from a private company that offers an alternative to Original Medicare for your health and drug coverage. These “bundled” plans include Part A, Part B, and usually Part D. Plans may offer some extra benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover — like vision, hearing, and dental services. Medicare Advantage Plans have yearly contracts with Medicare and must follow Medicare’s coverage rules. The plan must notify you about any changes before the start of the next enrollment year.
Each Medicare Advantage Plan can charge different out-of-pocket costs . They can also have different rules for how you get services.
Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D)
Medicare drug coverage helps pay for prescription drugs you need. To get Medicare drug coverage, you must join a Medicare-approved plan that offers drug coverage (this includes Medicare drug plans and Medicare Advantage Plans with drug coverage).
Each plan can vary in cost and specific drugs covered, but must give at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare. Medicare drug coverage includes generic and brand-name drugs. Plans can vary the list of prescription drugs they cover (called a formulary) and how they place drugs into different "tiers" on their formularies.
Plans have different monthly premiums. You’ll also have other costs throughout the year in a Medicare drug plan. How much you pay for each drug depends on which plan you choose.
- How does Medicare work with my other insurance?
When you have other insurance, there's more than one "payer" for your coverage.