Medicare Part C

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) Explained

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Isolated Letter C

What is a Medicare Part C plan?

A Medicare Part C (also called Medicare Advantage) plan is a private insurance policy that replaces Medicare Part A and Part B. In other words, if you enroll in a private Medicare Part C plan, you no longer receive coverage through Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B.

Medicare Part C plans are regulated by the federal government, which requires every plan to provide at least the same coverage as the government-run Medicare Parts A and B. Medicare Part C plans eliminate some Medicare co-payments and deductibles, just as a Medigap insurance policy does. And like Medigap policies, Medicare Part C plans provide coverage for some gaps in Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. For that reason, if you enroll in a Medicare Part C plan, you don't also need to buy a Medigap policy.

Keep in mind that each Medicare Part C plan is slightly different, depending on what that plan's private insurance company chooses to offer beyond basic Medicare.

Why look at Medicare Part C plans? The slightly broader coverage than Medicare Part A and Part B is one reason, but the main benefit is cost. Total out-of-pocket expenses with a Medicare Part C plan are usually lower than expenses with the combination of traditional Medicare Parts A and B plus a Medigap insurance policy. (But there are also real disadvantages with Part C plans; see What are the disadvantages of Medicare Part C plans?)