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What Is Medicare? The Basics You Need to Know

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Medicare is the federal health insurance program for older Americans (65 or over), or younger Americans with qualifying disabilities or conditions. It is broken down into four basic parts: A, B, C and D.


Medicare A

What Is Medicare Part A?

Part A is the hospital insurance part of Medicare. It typically covers things like medically necessary:

Inpatient care at a hospital or skilled nursing facility
(not long term)


Home health care or health services (but not custodial care, that is, help with daily activities like dressing, bathing or eating)

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Medicare B

What Is Medicare Part B?

Part B is the medical insurance part of Medicare. It typically covers things like medically necessary:

Doctor visits & outpatient services

Lab work & durable medical equipment

Home health services

Cancer therapy & kidney DIALYSIS

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Medicare B

Medicare C

What Is Medicare Part C?

Part C Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative you can choose for your Medicare coverage. Typically they:

Are offered and administered by Medicare-approved insurance carriers

Cover everything Medicare Parts A and B cover

Often includes Part D Prescription Drug Coverage

May offer other benefits not covered by Parts A and B

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Medicare C

Medicare D

What Is Medicare Part D?

Part D is Medicare prescription drug coverage. Original Medicare (Parts A and B) only cover prescription drugs in certain situations, like when you are hospital inpatient. So, to cover prescription drugs, you need to select a Medicare Part D plan. Medicare Part D plans:

Are offered through Medicare-approved private insurance companies

Help cover the cost of prescription drugs

Vary in what drugs are covered and at what level of coverage

Vary in monthly costs and out-of-pocket expenses

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Medicare D


What Medicare Coverage Do I Choose?

When choosing how to receive your Medicare benefits, you have two basic choices.


Medicare Supplement

Choice 1: Parts A and B (Original Medicare) + Part D + an optional Medicare Supplement plan, which is designed to cover many of the areas Original Medicare doesn’t cover.



Medicare Advantage

Choice 2: Part C (Medicare Advantage plan), which wraps up coverage equal to Parts A and B, often includes Part D, and may include other benefits, such as dental or vision coverage.1

The two choices (Original Medicare/Part D/Medicare Supplement versus Medicare Advantage) are very different. Learn more or find which option might be best for you by speaking with a Licensed Sales Agent.

1 This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premiums and/or co-payments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year.

2 You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.

Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in the plan depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare.

Last Updated: 8.24.2018 12:01AM ET Y0066_171214_055626


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