Medicare questions? Here’s what you need to know from A to D.

Parts of Medicare

What are the most popular plans?


For more information on the costs of health care in retirement:

See our complete research on health care costs in retirement.


Parts of Medicare

Part A:

  • Covers hospital care costs.
  • Part of Traditional Medicare managed by the U.S. government.
  • You should know: It’s free at 65 if you or your spouse have worked and paid taxes for 10 years.

Part B:

  • Covers outpatient & doctor visits.
  • Also part of Traditional Medicare managed by the U.S. government.
  • You should know: It’s not free. Monthly premiums are set annually. You also might have a co-pay.

Part C:

  • Covers hospital and physician costs.
  • Also known as Medicare Advantage offered by private insurance companies.
  • You should know: Most plans have an out-of-pocket max. They also may cover dental, hearing, and vision costs.

Part D:

  • Covers prescription costs.
  • Can be added to Traditional Medicare (A&B) or Medicare Advantage (C).
  • You should know: Costs will vary depending on the plan you choose and prescriptions you need.


  • Covers out-of-pocket costs such as co-pays and deductibles.
  • Can be added to Traditional Medicare but not Medicare Advantage.
  • You should know: You can get Medigap later, but you might pay more for services.

What are the most popular plans?

  • 35% of enrollees add Traditional Medicare to employer-sponsored coverage.
  • 32% of enrollees choose Medicare Advantage + Part D.
  • 21% of enrollees choose Traditional Medicare + Part D + Medigap.


  • Your travel plans. If you want to travel internationally, consider either a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medigap plan that offers foreign travel benefits.
  • Your health status. If you have health issues, consider a plan with more coverage.
  • Employer-sponsored health care. If you’re still working, your spouse has employer-sponsored benefits, or you have retiree health benefits, consider how the plans work together.
  • Your preferred doctor. Find out if your favorite health care provider or network accepts the plan you want to choose.
  • Your costs. Make sure you understand the different deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance, and maximum out-of-pocket costs that come with the plans you’re considering.

* In certain circumstances, you may qualify for Medicare at a younger age than 65.


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