What Are the Different Parts of Medicare?

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Medicare has four parts that offer coverage for different healthcare services or allow you to receive coverage in alternative or supplemental ways. Understanding how these options can and can’t be combined can help you get the right coverage to meet your healthcare goals.

Keep reading to explore the coverage options and costs for the different parts of Medicare.

Key Takeaways

  • Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (doctor insurance) are called Original Medicare and are run by the federal government.
  • Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, and Part D are optional alternative or additional plans to Original Medicare sold by private insurers.
  • Medigap, or Medicare Supplemental Plans, is available to help with coverage gaps in Original Medicare but doesn’t include drug coverage and can’t be combined with Part C.
  • While Part C bundles some parts of Medicare into a single plan, you are still responsible for paying your Part B premium, starting at $174.70, as an additional cost.

What Are the Different Parts of Medicare?

Medicare has different parts: Part A (hospital services), Part B (medical services), Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (prescription drugs). Part A and B are collectively called Original Medicare and run by a federal agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Original Medicare provides coverage for most healthcare services but has some gaps in coverage that additional options can fill in.

One option is Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, a standalone health plan offering Medicare coverage sold by private companies regulated by the Medicare program. Another is Part D, an optional addition to Original Medicare offered by private insurers, helping cover prescription drugs. Medigap (Medicare Supplemental Plan) also exists to help those on Original Medicare fill in coverage gaps for an additional cost.

Medicare Part A (Hospital Services)

See below for an overview of what Medicare Part A covers and does not cover.

What’s Covered

  • Inpatient hospital care
  • Skilled nursing facility care
  • Hospice care
  • Some home health care (e.g., physical therapy, occupational therapy services)
  • Blood tests

What Isn’t Covered

  • Long-term care (also called custodial care)
  • Concierge care (concierge medicine, retainer-based medicine, boutique medicine or direct care)
  • Non-medical care and non-skilled personal care assistance (e.g., home-delivered meals, adult day health care)

Additionally, some potential aspects of inpatient stay and hospice care also don’t receive coverage, such as:

  • Private-duty nurses
  • In-room televisions and phones
  • Private rooms (unless deemed medically necessary)
  • At-home hospice care (including nursing homes)

Part A Costs

Medicare Part A has no premium cost if you've paid Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters (10 years). Otherwise, Medicare will cost $278 if you’ve paid taxes for at least 7.5 years or $505 if you’ve paid taxes for less than that.[1][2] A $1,632 deductible — your out-of-pocket cost when receiving approved healthcare services — will apply for each benefit period.[1]

Keep in mind that you can incur a late enrollment penalty if you delay enrolling in Part A after you are first eligible.[1]

Medicare Part B (Medical Services)

Below, we highlight which Medicare services are covered and excluded under Medicare Part B.

What’s Covered

  • Up to four face-to-face alcohol misuse screenings and counseling sessions each year[3]
  • Ground ambulance transportation to a hospital or other healthcare facility
  • Bariatric surgeries (gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic banding surgery or some other type of procedure related to morbid obesity)
  • Preventative services (flu shots, glaucoma tests and screenings for HIV and Hepatitis B and C and other early illness detection services)
  • Up to 12 acupuncture visits for eligible chronic low back pain [4]
  • Chemotherapy
  • Chiropractic services
  • Chronic care management (treatment for chronic conditions (e.g., arthritis, diabetes), comprehensive care plans, medication and other support)
  • Colorectal cancer screening (colonoscopies, fecal occult blood tests and flexible sigmoidoscopies)
  • Three-month trial of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device[5]

What Isn’t Covered

Part B Costs

The premium for Part B will cost $174.70 per month in 2024. You are responsible for a $240 deductible plus a 20% coinsurance payment for most covered services. If you fail to sign up during your initial enrollment without a qualifying exemption, your Part B premium will increase by 10% for each 12-month period after you become eligible as a late enrollment penalty.[1]

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)

Medicare Advantage, or Part C, is an alternative to Original Medicare that bundles Part A, Part B and sometimes Part D into a single health plan. Instead of being a government-funded health plan, Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies and regulated by the federal government.

The advantage of a Medicare Advantage plan is that it may include benefits otherwise excluded in Original Medicare, such as vision, hearing and dental coverage.

However, you may only get coverage from doctors within your plan's network. With Original Medicare, you can use any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare.

Part C Costs

Unlike Original Medicare, there is no standard premium for a Medicare Advantage plan – the cost will vary by provider and location, potentially changing each year depending on the insurer. For example, California's average premium for Medicare Advantage plans in 2024 is $16.24 per month.[6]

You will still need to cover the premium for Part B as an additional cost to your Medicare Advantage plan’s premium.

Medicare Part D (Prescription Drugs)

Medicare Part D pays for prescription drugs, including generic and brand-name drugs. Part D is optional and can be purchased at an additional cost to supplement Original Medicare plans. Like Part C, Part D plans are offered by private insurers and regulated by the federal government.

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans may already have Part D coverage bundled, but not always. You should confirm with your Medicare Advantage plan provider if you require prescription drug coverage, as you cannot buy Part D and Part C simultaneously.

Part D Costs

Part D coverage has no fixed premium, with the cost varying by individual and potentially changing each year. The average monthly premium is estimated to be $55.50 in 2024.[7] Many premiums for Part D are affordable, with some states like California having standalone Part D premiums as low as $0.40.[6]

Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap)

Medigap, also called Medicare Supplement Insurance, is a policy sold by private insurers to cover gaps not covered in an Original Medicare plan, like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Medigap may even cover medical care when you travel outside the U.S. You must have Medicare Part A and Part B to qualify for Medigap.

Medigap policies will not include prescription drug coverage.

To cover the cost of prescription drugs, you must purchase a prescription drug plan (Part D), which can result in a separate premium for Medigap and Part D coverage if you purchase both. Additionally, you can’t have Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans simultaneously.[8]

Medigap Costs

Medigap benefits are marked by different plan types or letters, with each letter having the same benefits regardless of the insurer. The premium is the only difference between different insurer’s Medigap plans with the same letter.[9] For example, California’s Medigap Plan A’s premiums range between $107 and $926, depending on your age, health status and other factors.[10]

Will Medicare Cover All of My Medical Needs?

Original Medicare may not be enough to cover all your needs if you require specific coverage, such as dental coverage or vision coverage. If your coverage needs are more robust, you may want to consider enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan through a private insurer instead of Original Medicare.

Even with Medigap, not all costs and services will be covered under Original Medicare. As a result, you should always compare plans to ensure the one you choose best meets all your coverage needs.

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How many parts of Medicare are there?

Medicare has four parts: Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (doctor services coverage) and Part D (prescription drug coverage). Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, is an alternative form of health insurance offering Medicare coverage but is sold through private companies.

What are the original parts of Medicare?

The original parts of Medicare are Part A and Part B, or Original Medicare, both run by the federal agency Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Part C, Part D and Medigap additions are optional alternatives or add-ons for Medicare qualifiers offered by private insurers and regulated by the federal government.

Do I need Medicare Part C?

Medicare Part C may be worth considering if you want coverage for benefits excluded by Original Medicare, such as vision and dental insurance. That said, there are some drawbacks to note: MA plans typically have a more limited network and a previously in-network provider may leave the network in the future, to name a few.

Can I combine Medicare plans together?

You can combine your Original Medicare plan with Part D to receive prescription drug coverage alongside a Medigap option to help manage out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and copays. However, you will usually have to pay a separate premium for each plan.

Does Medicare Advantage cover everything Original Medicare doesn’t?

Medicare Advantage will cover all services listed under Parts A and B of Original Medicare. Some plans may also include coverage for benefits excluded by Original Medicare such as vision, hearing and dental insurance.


  1. Medicare.gov. “Costs.“ Accessed May 28, 2024.
  2. Medicare.gov. “What's Medicare?” Accessed May 30, 2024.
  3. Medicare.gov. “Alcohol Misuse Screenings & Counseling.” Accessed May 29, 2024.
  4. Medicare.gov. “Acupuncture Coverage.” Accessed May 29, 2024.
  5. Medicare.gov. “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Devices, Accessories and Therapy.” Accessed May 29, 2024.
  6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Fact Sheet,” Page 2. Accessed May 29, 2024.
  7. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “CMS Releases 2024 Projected Medicare Part D Premium and Bid Information.” Accessed May 29, 2024.
  8. Medicare.gov. “Learn How Medigap Works.” Accessed May 29, 2024.
  9. Medicare.gov. “Get Medigap Costs.” Accessed May 29, 2024.
  10. Medicare.gov. “Supplement Insurance (Medigap) Plans in California.” Accessed May 29, 2024.

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