Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, consists of plans offered by private insurance companies that include all the benefits of traditional Medicare Parts A and B as well as additional benefits, reports Medicare.gov. Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage by Medicare-approved private companies.
Although Medicare Part C plans vary in their extra services, they must provide Medicare Part A hospital insurance and Medicare Part B medical insurance, according to Medicare.gov. They usually also include prescription drug coverage, so that those enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans do not need to obtain extra Medicare Part D coverage. Other services that Medicare Part C plans often provide include hearing, vision, dental, and health and wellness programs. Medicare Advantage plans often charge higher premiums and have different guidelines than traditional Medicare for out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. Additionally, some require patients to visit health care providers within their network for medical needs that are not emergencies.
Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have lists of the drugs they cover called formularies, states Medicare.gov. They also usually divide drugs into tiers based on their cost, with lower-tier generic drugs costing less and higher-tier name brand drugs costing more. Medicare Part D plans often require patients to go to pharmacies within the plan's network and have extra costs such as premiums, deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and coverage gap payments.