Medicare Basics

Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility stays, home health visits (also covered under Part B), and hospice care.

Part B covers physician visits, outpatient services, preventive services, and home health visits.

Part C refers to the Medicare Advantage program, through which beneficiaries can enroll in a private health plan, such as a health maintenance organization (HMO), and receive all Medicare-covered benefits.

Part D is an outpatient prescription drug benefit, with additional subsidies for beneficiaries with low incomes and modest assets. The Part D benefit is offered through private plans that contract with Medicare, both stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs) and Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans (MA-PDs). Learn more.

Medicare supplement (Medigap) is insurance sold by private companies that can help pay for some of the health care costs that original Medicare does not cover. If you have original Medicare and Medigap insurance, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amount for covered health care costs, and then your Medigap insurance pays its share.

Medicare Advantage is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to cover Part A and B needs. Most Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage.

To learn more about the structure of Medicare, please visit