Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).
The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:
Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.
Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and some preventive services.
A type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans include Health Maintenance Organizations, Preferred Provider Organizations, Private Fee-for-Service Plans, Special Needs Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, most Medicare services are covered through the plan and aren’t paid for under Original Medicare. Some Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage.
Medicare offers prescription drug coverage to everyone with Medicare. If you decide not to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) when you’re first eligible, or if you decide not to join a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage, you’ll likely pay a late enrollment penalty unless you have other creditable prescription drug coverage, or you get extra help.
Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). These plans (sometimes called “PDPs”) add drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans.
To get Medicare drug coverage, you must join a plan run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare. Each plan can vary in cost and drugs covered.
A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy, sold by private companies, can help pay some of the health care costs that original medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
Some Medigap policies also offer coverage for services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like medical care when you travel outside the U.S. If you have Original Medicare and you buy a Medigap policy, Medicare will pay its share of the medicare-approved amount for covered health care costs. Then your Medigap policy pays its share.
A Medigap policy is different from a Medicare Advantage Plan. Those plans are ways to get Medicare benefits, while a Medigap policy only supplements your Original Medicare benefits.