Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A is hospital insurance and helps cover inpatient hospital stays. If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while employed, you are eligible for premium-free Part A benefits.
Part A also covers care received at many other medicare facilities, including inpatient hospital care, long-term care hospital, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, home healthcare, inpatient mental health/psychiatric care and hospice care.
Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B is medical insurance that covers certain necessary services such as a doctors’ visits and outpatient care. It’s optional and requires a monthly premium that varies depending on your income. Enrolling in Part B can be deferred if you or your spouse are still working, but there is a lifetime late-enrollment penalty (10% per year) for not enrolling in Part B when you first gain Medicare eligibility unless you are actively working.
Medicare Part C
Medicare Part C is a form of Medicare benefit offered by private companies. Part C combines Part A, B and sometimes D (prescription drug coverage), and is therefore both medical and hospital insurance.
Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. These Medicare benefits went into effect at the beginning of 2006 to help improve Medicare’s handling of rising prescription drug costs.
Part D plans cover most prescription drugs, but not all. There are certain drugs, like those that must be administered in a doctor’s office, that are covered under Medicare benefits Part B instead. Anyone entitled to Medicare Part A enrolled in Part B also is eligible for Part D.