According to, 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.”

There are four parts of Medicare that cover different services:

  • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)
  • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
  • Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans)
  • Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)

Part A Covers:

  • Inpatient hospital stays,
  • Care in a skilled nursing facility
  • Hospice care
  • Some home health care

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)

Part B Covers:

  • Certain doctors’ services
  • Outpatient care
  • Medical supplies
  • Preventive services

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans)

A Medicare Advantage Plan is 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
  • Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare services are covered through the plan and aren’t paid for under Original Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)

Part D adds prescription drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private-Fee-for-Service Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. These plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans may also offer prescription drug coverage that follows the same rules as Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.

Medicare Benefits

Every year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issue a Medicare handbook.  Why is it important for you to have a copy of this book?  It is a helpful tool for those of you who are approaching Medicare age and can assist you in figuring out your Medicare benefits.  It can take you beyond the myths you hear about Medicare and give you important facts.  It will tell you what it covers, what isn’t covered and it discusses premiums and deductibles.  This book will also help you unravel what you will pay for Medicare in 2015, whether it is premiums or deductibles.  It will prepare you to develop a plan for what is not covered by Medicare.

When my mother was going in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers after hip surgery, we found it to be the best resource in terms of unwinding the coverage that Medicare provides.  In my mother’s case, she had a great Medicare Supplement Plan, which only pays when Medicare pays.  It is wise to know the basics so you know what questions to ask when faced with these situations.

This handbook is free and can be found online at  Each Medicare beneficiary will receive a copy in the mail as well.  If you are a baby boomer near Medicare and are trying to figure out the different parts of Medicare (Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D), this is a great resource for you to have to get you started.  If you are lost about what long-term care benefits are covered by Medicare, you will find the answer in this handbook.  If you are still working on your budget for your 2015 health care expenses and are looking into what Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, or Medicare Part D is best for you, the handbook is a great place to get information.