Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Medicare 101 Video Series

“Original Medicare”

When you become eligible for Medicare, it’s natural to have questions. You are entering a new stage in life and there’s a lot to learn. At Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we’ve been helping folks like you understand healthcare coverage for more than 60 years. Medicare is the federal government program that helps pay healthcare expenses for people age 65 or older — as well as people with certain disabilities, regardless of age.

It’s important to know that Medicare was never intended to cover all of your medical expenses — just a portion. To understand how this works, we’ll look at the four parts of Medicare – Parts A, B, C and D – and what’s covered by each one.

First, there’s Medicare Part A, which is hospital insurance. It provides coverage for inpatient services — such as room and board, routine nursing services, physical therapy and more. Part A also provides benefits for skilled nursing care in a rehabilitation facility and home healthcare. There is no monthly premium for Part A. However, Part A does have deductibles and copayments. These are called out-of-pocket expenses. You are responsible for those expenses, unless you have a separate health insurance plan to cover them for you.

Then there’s Medicare Part B. It provides coverage for doctor and medical services. This includes doctor visits, preventive care, X-rays and lab tests, emergency room visits and many other medical services. There is a monthly premium for Part B, which is typically deducted from your Social Security check. With Medicare Part B, you will be required to meet a deductible and pay coinsurance. Medicare Part A and Part B are often referred to as “Original” Medicare. These were the first government insurance options available for seniors.

Next, there’s Medicare Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, which is sold by private insurance companies. A Medicare Advantage plan provides all the coverage of Original Medicare for hospitalization and medical care, plus it offers you additional benefits. In addition to Medicare Parts A, B, and C, there’s Medicare Part D – which covers a wide variety of prescription medications. Original Medicare does not cover most prescription drugs, so you need additional coverage. Like Medicare Part C plans, Medicare Part D plans are sold through private insurance companies.

Enrollment in Medicare Parts A and B is not automatic. You must sign up. And, the time when most people do this is right before they turn age 65. To enroll in Medicare Parts A and B (that’s “Original Medicare”), contact the Social Security Administration to request an application, or visit the Social Security office nearest you. As a reminder, to enroll in Medicare Part C and Medicare Part D, you can contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or you can visit with a private insurance company or your independent insurance agent.

Arkansas Blue Cross representatives are available to help you learn more about all aspects of the Medicare program. We want you to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your healthcare is covered as you turn age 65. Please don’t hesitate to ask us. We’ve been helping Arkansans with their health insurance needs for more than 60 years. It’s our privilege to serve your health insurance needs.