There are 4 parts of Medicare: Parts A, B, C, and D.
Part A: Basic hospital insurance
Part B: Basic medical insurance
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Part C: Medicare Advantage plans
Part D: Medicare prescription drug plans
More info: What are the different parts of Medicare?
Learn more about enrolling for different Medicare plans, eligibility requirements, and different payment options that may be available to you.
Your first chance to sign up for Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A & B) will be around your 65th birthday. When you sign up for Original Medicare, you are enrolling in basic hospital and medical coverage only.
If you are under 65, you may qualify if you have a disability or serious disease such as End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
After you enroll in Original Medicare, you can apply for optional Medicare health and drug coverage that may offer extra benefits. Plans that provide this coverage are called Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D). Your first chance to sign up for these plans also is around your 65th birthday.
If you do not enroll in a Medicare plan around your 65th birthday, there are designated periods when you can enroll each year.
More info: When can you sign up for Medicare?
Original Medicare (Parts A & B) provides some dental and vision coverage, but only in limited situations. If you need more comprehensive dental and vision coverage, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes these benefits.
Original Medicare can often cover a wide range of Durable Medical Equipment. In some cases, Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans can cover Durable Medical Equipment not covered by Original Medicare.
More Info: Medicare and DME
Numerous procedures and services are offered under Original Medicare. In some cases, Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans may cover some additional procedures that Original Medicare won't cover.
More Info: Medicare Covered Procedures
More info: Medicare Coverage
While Original Medicare will rarely cover prescriptions, Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage can help pay for any prescription drug you may need.
More Info: Prescription Drug Coverage
Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) and Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap) both supplement Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A & B), but they do so in very different ways.
Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative way to get your Original Medicare benefits, plus in certain cases, additional coverage for dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Supplement insurance is a type of insurance coverage that helps you pay for your Original Medicare co-payments, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs.
Both types of health plans are sold by private companies and require you to be enrolled in Original Medicare before you are eligible for coverage.
You cannot have a Medicare Supplement insurance policy and a Medicare Advantage plan at the same time.
There are two ways to get prescription drug coverage through the Medicare program. You can either enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) that includes drug coverage or enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D).
Both Part C plans and Part D plans are provided by private health insurers and are regulated by the federal government.
Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A & B) does not provide prescription drug coverage.
More info: How do you get Medicare drug coverage?
Medicare expert Christian Worstell answers reader questions about everything from Medicare benefits to enrollment and eligibility. To learn the answers to popular Medicare FAQs, check out the articles below.
If you're ready to compare the Medicare plan options available where you live, you can call to speak with a licensed insurance agent. You can also compare plans online for free, with no obligation to enroll.
Once you've found the best Medicare plan for your needs, you can enroll over the phone or online, if you're eligible.
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Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
Where you've seen coverage of Christian's research and reports: