Medicare Part A is for hospital care. It covers things like your hospital room, meals, general nursing and hospital services and supplies. It does not cover private duty nursing, comfort or convenience items. Coverage is for up to 90 days per Benefit Period and the first 60 days are covered at 100% after the Medicare Part A Deductible is met. You pay an out of pocket cost for any days after 60. There is an additional 60 days of coverage called lifetime reserve days, but it can only be used once. It’s important to note that the deductible is $1,600 for 2023 and applies to any new Benefit Period. So, if you go into the hospital for a couple of days, get discharged and then return a week later – you are still in the same Benefit Period and will not be charged again for the $1,600 Part A Deductible that you incurred on the first confinement. If you are out of the hospital and/or Skilled Nursing Facility for at least 60 days in a row, a return to the hospital would begin a new Benefit Period and you would owe the Part A Deductible. There are usually no premiums for Part A if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working (a.k.a. ‘Premium-free Part A’).
Medicare Part B is optional. It covers things like doctors’ visits, lab work and x-rays outside a hospital stay. It is an 80 – 20 plan meaning Medicare pays 80% of the approved expenses and you are responsible for the remaining 20%. For 2023, the premium for Part B starts at $164.90 per month (or higher depending on your income). There is a $226.00 deductible, but the deductible is for the whole calendar year, not per occurrence. If you collect a Social Security check, your premium will most likely be deducted.
Most Medicare Advantage plans also offer prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Advantage plans include Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), Private Fee-for-Services Plans (PFFS), Special Needs Plans (SNP), and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans (MSA).
Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans”, are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all of your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare pays a fixed amount for your care each month to the companies offering Medicare Advantage Plans. Companies providing Medicare Advantage Plans must follow rules set by Medicare.
Medicare prescription drug coverage is an optional benefit offered to everyone who has Medicare. There are two ways to get prescription drug coverage.
1. Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) - These plans (sometimes called "PDPs") add drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans.
2. Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan that offer Medicare prescription drug coverage. You get all of your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage, and prescription drug coverage (Part D), through these plans. Medicare Advantage Plans with prescription drug coverage are sometimes called “MA-PDs.” You must have Part A and Part B to join a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Important Note: Each plan that offers prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D must give at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare. Plans can vary the list of prescription drugs they cover (called a formulary) and how they place drugs into different "tiers" on their formularies