Medicare is the federally-funded program for qualifying senior citizens and disabled persons. In its basic form, it is provided at no cost through the Social Security Administration. Divided into different parts that cover different things, Medicare provides hospital services, doctor services, and wellness services to its enrollees.
Medicare Part A covers hospital care and skilled nursing care. It also covers care for a single health condition for up to 100 days. There are copay amounts involved, and some limitations, but Part A absorbs a lot of the costs a beneficiary would otherwise incur.
Medicare Part B covers outpatient care. Services like doctor visits, lab tests, X-Rays, and other outpatient hospital care are provided through Part B. Part B also covers durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, prosthetics and oxygen tanks. Individuals working full time can opt-out of Medicare Part B until such a time as they stop working, but everyone pays a monthly premium for Medicare Part B coverage once they receive benefits.
While Medicare provides a strong set of benefits, it is not perfect. Gaps exist in basic Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Medicare Part C, and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D), are designed to fill these gaps.