Medicare Glossary

Definitions for common Medicare terms

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)

DEFINITION: Medicare Part C — or Medicare Advantage — plans offer Medicare-covered benefits through private health plans instead of through Original Medicare.

The plans are required to offer the benefits that are covered by Medicare Part A and Part B, but they can also offer additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage (88 percent of Medicare Advantage plans included prescription coverage in 2017), or dental and vision coverage.

In exchange for the additional benefits, coverage is typically limited to a local network of providers, rather than the broad, nationwide access to provider that Original Medicare beneficiaries have.

Medicare Advantage enrollees pay the premium for Part B (an average of $130/month in 2018), plus the premium for their Medicare Advantage plan.

33 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2017, with the remaining two-thirds enrolled in Original Medicare.

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