Medicare Part A and B are the two primary pillars of Medicare coverage. These two parts complement each other to provide and fortify your basic Medicare coverage. Yet, a lot of people still don’t quite know what Medicare Part A covers, what Medicare Part B covers, or the difference between the two! We will give you a run-down.
Medicare Part A is often referred to as hospital coverage. Part A coverage includes inpatient care in hospitals, nursing facilities or critical access hospitals. Depending on your qualifications it may cover hospice or home treatment expenses. However, keep in mind that Part A is not meant to cover long term treatment or care. Also note that Part A is meant to help cover, not completely cover all hospital expenses. These are the medical services covered by Part A:
- Inpatient Hospital Stays
- Nursing Home or Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Hospice Care
- Home Health Care
- Blood Transfusions
A nifty fact about Part A: Most people don’t pay a premium for Part A because they paid Medicare taxes during their employment.
Medicare Part B is often referred to as Medical insurance. It covers outpatient medical expenses like doctor’s visits, medical supplies, ambulance service, or preventative services like flu shots. You must enroll in Part B when you become eligible within 6 months of turning 65 or when you disenroll from your employer or group health care plan. It’s important to enroll when you are first eligible because unlike Part A, Part B requires a monthly premium (usually deducted from your Social Security or retirement benefits) and a yearly deductible. If you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible it could result in permanently higher monthly premiums. If you miss your first enrollment period you will also have to wait until enrollment opens again in January.
Part B includes a deductible (which varies per year) that must be paid before Medicare coverage kicks in. Medicare will cover 80% of your medical expenses after the deductible. In other words, after you pay your deductible you are only responsible for 20% of the left over medical expenses.
Part B coverage includes:
- Doctor visits (both inpatient visits or outpatient visits)
- Ambulance Services
- Medical services or supplies
- Preventative Services (flu shots, screenings, test or exams)