Medicare Part A covers hospital stays, nursing care and some home-health services, and Medicare Part B covers doctor visits, laboratory tests and outpatient procedures. Seniors don’t have to pay a monthly premium for Part A, although they must meet an annual deductible, after which Medicare covers 80 percent of inpatient expenses for the first 60 days of hospitalization. Part B carries a monthly premium and a deductible, according to the American Association of Retired Persons.
Everyone who enrolls in Medicare automatically signs up for Part A, but Part B is optional, and people who have significant incomes pay higher premiums for Part B. While seniors don’t have to sign up for Part B, those who decline it during their initial enrollment may pay higher premiums if they need the coverage later, warns AARP. Medicare sets doctor reimbursement rates, but doctors can charge more than the established rates, leaving patients with out-of-pocket expenses not covered through Part B.
Many health care companies offer Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, which combines the benefits of Parts A and B with prescription drug coverage. People who don’t select a Part C plan can purchase Part D prescription drug coverage through an insurance company, explains Medicare.gov.