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Know the ABCs of Medicare now and be prepared to sign up later

Maybe you’re a couple years away from 65 and aren’t quite ready to think about Medicare. Maybe you’ve heard it can be daunting to figure out the different “Parts” – the A, B, C, and D.

What do they mean? Regardless of your situation, it's good to have a basic understanding of Medicare for when it's time to choose a plan.

Parts A (hospital coverage) and B (medical coverage)

Now known as Original Medicare, it’s a health insurance program run by the federal government to help people 65 and older cover their health care costs. It was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson.

In 1972, during the Nixon administration, Medicare expanded to include people under 65 with certain disabilities and those with end-stage renal disease.

Medicare Supplement plans

Medicare Supplement plans (also known as Medigap plans) are available to help cover financial gaps in Original Medicare, such as costs for coinsurance, copays, and deductibles. Medicare Supplement plans are offered by private insurance companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC).

Medicare Advantage plan (Part C)

Offered by private companies like Blue Cross NC, Medicare Advantage plans:

  • take the place of Original Medicare (A and B)
  • provide additional care benefits not covered by Original Medicare
  • provide Part D prescription drug benefits (available in most Medicare Advantage plans)

Prescription drug coverage (Part D)

Part D is Medicare prescription drug coverage. It helps pay for both brand-name and generic medications.

Save these resources

The federal government’s official website,⁠, has useful information.

The Blue Cross NC Shop Medicare NC site contains guidance on how to choose a plan that’s right for your needs.

Want to talk to an actual person?

Our contact us page provides toll-free numbers to call for answers and guidance about Medicare plans. You can also visit a Blue Cross NC Center in Raleigh, Durham, and Boone. Come in and see us in person for one-on-one personalized attention. Our friendly staff is prepared to answer all of your health care plan and Medicare-related questions.

Still have questions?

Join one of our Medicare 101 webinars. Discover what we'll cover in each session and how to register. It’s easy!

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