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What Is the Difference Between Medicare Part A and Part B?

Donald Kreis by Donald Kreis | Licensed since 2002
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This article was updated on: 11/17/2015

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Original Medicare is made up of two parts: Part A, hospital insurance, and Part B, medical insurance. They can work together, but coverage does not overlap.

Medicare Part A covers your hospital expenses. This includes hospital stays, skilled nursing care (as long as custodial care isn’t the only care you need), hospice, and home health-care services. Part A services may require you to pay various deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.

Many people qualify for premium-free Part A because they or their spouse paid taxes toward Medicare while working for at least 10 years (or 40 quarters). But otherwise, you may have to pay a monthly premium.

Medicare Part B is your health insurance coverage. It covers two types of services, including medically necessary services to treat illnesses or conditions, such as doctor’s office visits, lab work, x-rays, and outpatient surgeries, and preventive services to keep you healthy, like cancer screenings and flu shots. Part B also covers medically necessary durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers to treat a disease or condition. Costs for Part B services vary, but frequently, you will pay a deductible and then 20% of the Medicare-approved amount, as long as you use providers who accept Medicare assignment.

Most people pay a premium for Part B. Even if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that provides your Part A and Part B benefits, you still have to pay your Part B premium.

Hopefully, this gives you some basic information about Part A and Part B of Original Medicare. Feel free to visit Medicare.gov for additional information on Part A and Part B coverage. Of course, I am happy to answer any other questions you might have.

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