Medicare 101: What are Medicare and Medicare Advantage?

November 12, 2020

Note that information on Medicare is primarily supplied by the Medicare and You 2021 Guide from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  

Medicare is a federal health insurance program that covers a portion of medical and hospital expenses for people ages 65 and older, or those with certain disabilities. Because Medicare recipients are responsible for making up any cost differences and paying for their prescription medicines, choosing Medicare coverage is an important decision. Blue KC is here to help you understand your Medicare options so you can choose with confidence.

Parts of Medicare Insurance

There are four main parts to Medicare insurance.

  • Medicare Part A, or hospital insurance which helps cover costs if you are a patient in a hospital, skilled nursing facility or in hospice care
  • Medicare Part B, or medical insurance which helps cover costs for doctors’ services, outpatient hospital care, durable medical equipment and other services
  • Medicare Part C, which allows private health insurance companies like Blue KC to provide Medicare benefits, known as Medicare Advantage plans
  • Medicare Part D, which is outpatient prescription drug coverage offered through private health insurance companies as a separate cost, or built into a Medicare Advantage plan

Original Medicare includes Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). If you want drug coverage, you can join a separate Medicare drug plan (Part D). To help pay your out-of-pocket costs in Original Medicare (like your 20% coinsurance), you can also shop for and buy supplemental coverage. You can also use any doctor or hospital that takes Medicare, anywhere in the U.S.

What is Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage, otherwise known as Part C, is an “all-in-one” alternative to Original Medicare. These “bundled” plans include Part A, Part B, and usually Part D. Most plans also offer extra benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover—like vision, hearing, dental, and more.

If you have questions about our plans or how to enroll, call us at 888-800-4481 or visit to learn more.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The HMO products are offered by Blue-Advantage Plus of Kansas City, Inc., and the PPO products are offered by Missouri Valley Life and Health Insurance Company, both wholly owned subsidiaries of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City’s Blue Medicare Advantage includes both HMO and PPO plans with Medicare contracts. Enrollment in Blue Medicare Advantage depends on contract renewal.

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