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What are the 4 parts of Medicare?

Posted: August 20, 2020

Last updated date: December 06, 2022

Medicare is a federal health insurance program. It covers people 65 or older, and some younger people with disabilities or other special situations. You may have heard about the 4 parts of Medicare, known as Medicare Parts A, B, C and D. But do you know what’s the difference, or what’s covered by each part? This article explains the services covered by each part of Medicare. That may be helpful if you have both Medicare and Medicaid and you’re wondering what’s covered by Medicare versus your state Medicaid plan.

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1. Medicare Part A: Hospital Insurance

What is Medicare Part A and what does it cover?

Medicare Part A covers services that you may get as an inpatient during a stay in hospital or a skilled nursing facility. These services are provided by the care facility itself, including:

  • Meals
  • Lab tests
  • X-rays
  • Operating and recovery room services, and more

Hospice care and some home health care services are also covered by Medicare Part A.

To see what’s covered by Medicare Part A, watch the video below.

An illustrated blue building appears on a yellow background below blue text.

ON SCREEN TEXT: What Is Covered by Medicare Part A?

The building slowly moves towards the viewer as a blue truck with a white cross on it pulls up in front of it. The camera zooms into a window.

Blue and yellow furniture, including a bed, chair, TV on a stand, and rug appear on a light yellow background below blue text.

ON SCREEN TEXT: Part A Covers Hospital Stays & Inpatient Care, Including...

The furniture slowly moves towards the viewer before we zoom into the TV.

Blue text appears on a white background surrounded by a light blue border. The text slowly scrolls up.

ON SCREEN TEXT: A Semi-private Room

ON SCREEN TEXT: Hospital Meals

ON SCREEN TEXT: Skilled Nursing Services

ON SCREEN TEXT: Care On Special Units

ON SCREEN TEXT: Drugs, Medical Supplies & Medical Equipment Used During Your Inpatient Stay

ON SCREEN TEXT: Lab Test, X-rays & Medical Equipment As An Inpatient

ON SCREEN TEXT: Operating Room & Recovery Services

ON SCREEN TEXT: Some Blood Transfusions In A Hospital Or Skilled Nursing Facility

ON SCREEN TEXT: Rehabilitation Services (Ex. Physical Therapy) Received Through Home Health Care

ON SCREEN TEXT: Skilled Health Care In Your Home If You're Homebound & Only Need Part-time Care

ON SCREEN TEXT: Hospice Care

The white box slides down and reveals blue text.

ON SCREEN TEXT: Medicare Made Clear by UnitedHealthcare 

2. Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance

What is Medicare Part B and what does it cover?

Medicare Part B covers doctor services and preventive care. That includes:

  • Services provided when a doctor treats you in hospital
  • Urgent care or emergency room treatment
  • Checkups and routine doctor visits
  • Preventive care and testing, such as flu shots, eye exams and cancer screenings

To see what’s covered by Medicare Part A, watch the video below.

A blue and yellow building appears on a light blue background below blue text.

ON SCREEN TEXT: What Is Covered by Medicare Part B?

A yellow car pulls up in front of the building as the building moves closer to the viewer.

The camera zooms into one of the building's windows.

Two blue and yellow animated people appear on a white background in front of an X-ray screen. Blue text appears above them.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Part B Covers Doctor Visits & Outpatient Care, Including...

The camera zooms into the X-ray screen. A white background is surrounded by a yellow border.

Blue text slowly scrolls up on the white background.

ON SCREEN TEXT: Doctor Visits

ON SCREEN TEXT: Ambulatory Surgery Centers

ON SCREEN TEXT: Outpatient Medical Services

ON SCREEN TEXT: Some Preventive Care (Ex. Flu Shots)

ON SCREEN TEXT: Clinical Laboratory Services (Ex. Blood Or Urine Tests)

ON SCREEN TEXT: X-rays, MRIs, CT Scans, EKGs & Some Other Diagnostic Tests

ON SCREEN TEXT: Durable Medical Equipment For Use At Home (Ex. Wheelchairs/Walkers)

ON SCREEN TEXT: Emergency Room Services, Part-time/Intermittent, Skilled Nursing Care & Health Aid Services For The Homebound

ON SCREEN TEXT: Mental Health Care As An Outpatient

The background slips and slides its way down, off the screen, revealing blue text on a yellow background.

ON SCREEN TEXT: Medicare Made Clear® By UnitedHealthcare

3. Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage Plans

What is Medicare Part C and what does it cover?

Medicare Part C covers both Medicare Parts A and B (what’s also known as “Original Medicare”) together. Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B are often combined under one plan, called a Medicare Advantage plan.

Dual Special Needs Plans (also known as D-SNPs or dual health plans) are a type of Medicare Advantage Plan. These plans are for people who have both Medicare and Medicaid. Dual health plans offer extra help for those living with complex health care needs and limited income. Many dual health plans include care coordination. That makes it easier to manage multiple doctors and specialists. Dual health plans usually offer extra benefits like vision, dental and hearing coverage.* That can help cover care that many people are missing or may not be able to afford.

Find out more about the extra benefits you could get with a dual health plan.

4. Medicare Part D: prescription drug coverage

What is Medicare Part D and what does it cover?

Medicare Part D covers certain prescription drugs, except those already covered by Medicare Parts A and B. It’s possible to get drug coverage through a stand-alone Part D plan. But to make things easy, most Medicare Advantage dual health plans include drug coverage. If you take any prescription medicines, you’ll want make sure your drugs are covered by a dual health plan before you enroll.

Learn more about dual health plan prescription drug coverage.

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Dual-eligible or Medicaid plan benefits can change depending on where you live. Search using your ZIP code to find the best plan to meet your health care needs.

*Benefits and features vary by plan/area. Limitations and exclusions apply.

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Still have questions

We’re here to help

Contact us at:
1-844-812-5967 / TTY: 711
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, 7 days a week.