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Medicare : Medicare Basics

Medicare is a federal health insurance program. It’s available to people 65 and older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease. When you’re ready to decide on a plan, take the time to understand how the plans work. That way, you can make an informed decision and choose the plan that’s right for you.

Different parts of Medicare cover different services. The parts of Medicare are:

Part A—Hospital Coverage
  • Helps cover inpatient hospital care.
  • Helps cover care in a skilled nursing facility or hospice.
  • Also helps cover home health care.

Part B—Medical Coverage
  • Helps cover doctor and outpatient services.
  • May cover preventive services to maintain health or keep illnesses from getting worse.
  • In many cases, those who have Part B coverage pay a monthly premium.

Part C—Medicare Advantage
  • An alternative to the Original Medicare insurance program and administered by the federal government, Part C gives you the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage health plan offered by private companies such as WellCare.
  • Private companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans are approved by Medicare to provide and administer benefits for their members.
  • Part C plans cover the same services as Part A and Part B and, in some cases, prescription drug coverage is included as well.

Part D—Prescription Drug Coverage
  • Helps cover cost of prescription drugs.
  • Offered by private companies like WellCare (requiring a monthly premium).
  • May be a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan, or may be included as part of a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan.


When It Comes to Coverage, You Have Options:

  • You can get health services through Original Medicare and select a private Prescription Drug Plan.
  • You can get both your health services and prescription drug coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan that offers both.
  • You can purchase a Medicare Supplement plan from private insurance companies to cover the gaps in Original Medicare.


For descriptions of a variety of Medicare terms, view our glossary of terms.

Y0070_NA023899_WCM_WEB_ENG CMS Approved

Last modified: 12/02/2013

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