The Basics: Parts of Medicare

If you’re reading this, you likely know that Medicare is national health insurance for people 65 or older, or in some cases, younger people with disabilities. Beyond that, Medicare can begin to look like a word scramble. Let’s start learning the Medicare alphabet.

What the federal government provides: Medicare Parts A and B

The government provides two types of Medicare—Parts A and B

Medicare Part A icon of a hospital building

Part A: Hospital coverage

Medicare Part A pays for hospital-related costs, things like inpatient stays, hospice care and home health care. You typically won’t pay a premium for Part A.

What you pay.

  • Deductibles
  • Coinsurance
  • Costs for care outside the United States
Medicare Part B icon of a doctor

Part B: Routine medical care

Medicare Part B pays for routine medical care like doctor visits, preventive services, outpatient care, physical therapy and medical equipment.

What you pay.

  • A monthly premium (it’s like a membership fee)
  • Deductibles
  • Coinsurance
  • Costs for care outside the United States

Parts A and B can cover other services and items not mentioned here. You can investigate the full details at

What Part A Covers

What Part B Covers

Covering the Gaps: Part C, Medicare Supplements and Part D

Original Medicare, or Parts A and B, can leave gaps in your coverage, and you’re responsible for these costs. Many Medicare recipients add coverage with products from a private insurer, like Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND).

Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part C icon of a hand with multiple medical symbols combining into a bundle

Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C

Medicare Advantage, also called Medicare Part C, bundles all of your coverage together in one plan that’s administered by a private insurer, like our affiliate, NextBlue of North Dakota PPO. These plans often include other benefits, like dental, vision, hearing and prescription drug coverage.

Medicare supplements plan Icon with all the letters, A, C, F, L, N and G

Medicare Supplements

These are also known as Medigap plans, because Medicare Supplement plans fill the gaps that Parts A and B don’t cover. These plans are standardized by the federal government, so the coverage is the same from company to company.

Medicare prescription drug icon with a pill and bottle

Prescription Drug Coverage, or Medicare Part D

Most of the time your Original Medicare coverage will not include prescription drugs. Prescription Drug Plans (PDP), like MedicareBlueRx from BCBSND, will help you cover the cost of your medications.

See how Medicare Supplements compare to Medicare Advantage

Medicare Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage: What’s the difference?

Get a high-level explanation of your Medicare coverage

Questions or Ready to Apply?

Talk to an agent or call 800‑280‑2583 TTY 771 
Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Not sure which Medicare option is right for you?

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