If you’re shopping around for a Medicare plan, you might be wondering what the differences are between each part of Medicare, so you can make the right choice.
The four parts of Medicare are:
- Part A: hospital services
- Part B: outpatient services
- Part C: Medicare Advantage
- Part D: prescription drugs
Part B is a portion of your healthcare coverage that falls under original Medicare, while Part C is an all-in-one standalone plan that you buy from an insurance company.
In this article, we take a closer look at Medicare Part B and Part C, including what each plan covers, their costs, and how to choose the best plan for your needs.
Medicare Part B covers visits with your doctor and other outpatient services, such as:
- diagnostic screenings
- lab tests
- medical equipment
- emergency ambulance rides
Medicare Part B also covers many preventive services, such as:
- hepatitis B shots
- pneumonia shots
- flu shots
- diabetes screenings
- cancer screenings
- cardiovascular screenings
Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) bundles together the primary components of Medicare into one comprehensive plan, including:
- Medicare Part A
- Medicare Part B
- Medicare Part D (in most cases)
Some Medicare Advantage plans also offer additional coverage, such as
Medicare Advantage plans offer different groups of services and benefits, so it’s important to read and compare plan descriptions.
The two main differences between Medicare parts B and C are:
- Part B is a key component of original Medicare, along with Part A. Part C is a bundling of components, including Part A, Part B, and often Part D.
- Part C is offered by private companies (approved by Medicare), while Part B is a government program administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage plans differ in coverage, costs, and benefits. When comparing your options, you’ll need to think about your needs as well as your healthcare budget.
If you decide to only enroll in Part B (and not Part C):
- You’ll have a few set costs each year, including $233 deductible and a monthly premium of $170.10.
- For other costs like copays and coinsurance, you’ll pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved rate until you reach your deductible.
- Part B only covers services approved by Medicare and does not include extras like vision, hearing, or dental coverage.
If you determine that Medicare Advantage is the best choice for you, here are a few things to know:
- You’re still required to enroll in Medicare parts A and B.
- You’ll be required to pay the Part B premium if your plan doesn’t cover it.
- Your Medicare Advantage plan’s premiums, deductibles, and services can change annually.
- A Part C plan will bundle all of your part A and part B coverage, along with several extra services, into an all-in-one plan.
Medicare Parts B and C have important differences. Medicare Part B is offered by the U.S. government to help cover the costs of doctor visits and outpatient services.
Medicare Part C is offered by private companies. It includes Medicare Part B along with Part A and often Part D. Medicare Part C can also include services not offered by Medicare, such as vision and dental.