A Medicare Primer for Senior Citizens

May 1st, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare

Sometimes we assume others know and understand something, just because we do.  That’s not always the case.  This article will describe the four parts of Medicare and help senior citizens understand this important medical insurance program.  If you have other coverage from a retirement program or through other means, Medicare allows you to choose which parts you want and as a result, you can avoid duplicating coverage you have elsewhere.

In the following descriptions, readers can click on each highlighted phrase to go to the http://www.medicare.gov/ website for more information

Part A:  Many of us seniors call this Hospital Insurance.  However, Part A helps pay for more than just hospitals.  Also included are skilled nursing centers, home health care, hospice care and medications administered when a senior is in one of these centers.  Remember, it doesn’t cover everything and most of us need a supplemental plan to help pay for what Medicare doesn’t.

Part BPart B helps cover medically-necessary services like doctors’ services, outpatient care, home health services, and other medical services. Part B also covers some preventive services.

Part C:  A Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) is another Medicare health plan choice you may have as part of Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” are offered by private companies approved by Medicare.

If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, the plan will provide all of your Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage. 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).

Part DMedicare prescription drug coverage is insurance run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare.  Seniors and other eligible persons can get Medicare prescription drug coverage through plans that add prescription drug coverage to Original Medicare, or through a Medicare Advantage Plan.

This brief description is intended to only identify the four parts of Medicare.  Readers are strongly encouraged to go to the Medicare website to read more about each plan in order to understand all four thoroughly.



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  1. [...] of health insurance available to seniors.  That includes Medicare Parts A, B, C, D.  SCJ has described these in detail  in a previous article.  To summarize, these four parts cover services to seniors in hospital (Part A), in doctor/medical [...]

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