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With all the confusion in Medicare today, it is difficult to understand what each of the three main plans offer. Below we have detailed these plans and their sub plans to help you determine which would be best for you.

Original Medicare (Parts A & B)
Original Medicare is the portions of the program that were originally included with the plan. These programs are also known as Medicare Parts A and B. Today the plans are still available to:
  • Anyone 65 years of age or older
  • Those under 65 who have certain disabilities
  • Those with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
However, there are some differences between Parts A & B. These are explained below:

Medicare Part A is also known as hospital insurance, which includes:
  • Inpatient hospital care
  • Home healthcare, skilled nursing and hospice care
Medicare Part B is differs slightly by acting as medical insurance. This coverage includes the following:
  • Doctors' visits
  • Medical equipment
  • Outpatient care
  • Home care
  • Some preventative services
Today, original Medicare -- Parts A & B -- have been expanded upon and now the entire program encompasses not only Parts A & B, but also C, D, and Medigap insurance. The parts not included as part of the original Medicare plan -- Parts C and D, and Medigap insurance -- are combined with the original Parts A & B to create a more complete plan. You will find each individual part described in further detail below.

Medicare Advantage (Part C)
Medicare Advantage is a plan that is offered by private insurance companies yet provided to those companies by the government. While you will be a client of the insurance company, they will be receiving a flat rate from the government every month to provide you with the services you need. That rate will vary depending upon your specific situation. These insurance companies are known as Medicare Advantage Plan Providers and they must abide by the rules established by Medicare. Cost and coverage between Medicare Advantage Plan Providers will vary, so you will need to compare their costs and services to ensure you are getting the best value for your needs.

Coverage under the Medicare Advantage program can include:
  • Emergency care
  • Urgent care
  • All services covered under Original Medicare except hospice, which is still covered by Original Medicare
  • Many include extra coverage for vision, hearing, and dental
  • Most, but not all, provide prescription drug coverage
Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D)
The only addition that Medicare Part D provides to the Original Medicare plan (Parts A & B) is the coverage of prescription drugs. However, even though this is the only difference, Prescription Drug Coverage plans still widely vary depending upon the different premiums found within the plan, as well as co-payments and the actual prescriptions that you need. Because of this, you will still need to compare different providers to determine who will best provide you the most appropriate service at an ideal cost.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap)
It might be easiest to remember what Medigap offers by simply remembering its name -- Medigap covers the gap of what you need by providing the health care costs that the original Medicare does not. The different services and health care needs are standardized by Medicare and are differentiated using letters A through N, where each letter indicates a particular type of health care or health care service. To find out what each plan covers, speak to a licensed professional or check-out the helpful chart provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Just like other packages, private insurance companies offer coverage for these health care services under the Medigap umbrella, but each company will provide it at a different cost. Because of this, it is extremely important that you carefully review each company to find out who will give you the best service at the lowest cost.

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