Did you know that there are four parts to Medicare? Sometimes navigating Medicare feels like a math problem to solve; you must sign up for Parts A and B first, then you can get Part C to replace Parts A and B… confusing right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Once you understand what Medicare is, and you’ve gotten an overview of parts A and B, it’s time to dive deeper into Medicare Part C.
What is Medicare?
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 years of age or older. In addition, those under 65 with certain disabilities (or specifically End-Stage Renal Disease) may qualify for Medicare. The single-payer system uses roughly 30-50 private insurance companies to administer the Medicare coverage to those aged 65 and up.
What is Medicare Part C?
Medicare Part C is often referred to as the Medicare Advantage Plan (or the MA Plan). Essentially, it is another Medicare health plan choice for a Medicare-eligible participant (aged 65+ or under special circumstances). Before explaining how it works and what it covers, you need to understand that you must have already enrolled in Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) first – so keep that in mind as you contemplate the Part C option and if it is right for you.
Will the Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) Replace Parts A and B?
If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, the plan will provide all of your Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage. Additionally, Medicare Advantage Plans may offer extra coverage, such as vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), which we’ll cover more in another blog.
What Companies Offer Medicare Advantage Plans?
Medicare Part C is offered through private health insurance companies. Medicare pays a fixed amount each month to these companies. The rules that are set for all parts of Medicare apply to the companies that provide Medicare Advantage Plans. Not sure where to find a company? The U.S. News and World Report published the best companies (by state) for 2017, available here.
What is Covered under Part C?
According to AARP, the following services are covered under Medicare Part C:
- All the benefits of Part A, except hospice care
- All the benefits of Part B
- Hospital stays
- Skilled nursing
- Home health care
- Doctor’s visits
- Outpatient care
- Screenings and shots
- Lab tests
- Prescription drug coverage is included in many Medicare Advantage plans, but not all.
- Eye care
- Hearing care
- Wellness services
- Nurse helpline
There may also be bundled extras depending on the plan.
This is a lot of information to take in. However, you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed.– there are plenty of resources out there to help you navigate the Medicare process. To start, read through our related posts about Medicare, become knowledgeable in Medicare’s various components and make a list of questions you still need answered. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help.