Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B)

3 things to know about Original Medicare:

  1. It’s a federal health insurance program that covers U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents who are 65 and older, and those with certain disabilities or diseases.
  2. Original Medicare consists of Part A and Part B.
  3. Part B is optional and comes with a monthly premium.

Medicare is a federal program that ensures U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents 65 years of age and older (and younger individuals with certain disabilities or diseases) have affordable health care coverage options. In 2014, more than 53.8 million people were enrolled in Medicare, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

There are 4 parts of Medicare: Parts A, B, C, and D. Each part covers different services.

Medicare Parts A and B (Original Medicare) are provided by the federal government. Medicare Part C and Part D are provided by private insurance companies.

Eligibility and enrollment

In order to qualify for Medicare coverage, you must be at least 65 years old and a citizen (or permanent legal resident) of the United States. You also may qualify if you are under 65 and have a qualifying disability or disease.

Some people are enrolled in Medicare automatically. If you are not enrolled automatically, you can enroll on your own during certain enrollment periods.

More info: Medicare eligibility and enrollment


Each part of Original Medicare provides different benefits. Part A provides hospital coverage and Part B provides non-emergency medical coverage.

More info: Medicare benefits


Part A is free for about 99% of enrollees, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Part B comes with a monthly premium that is about $105 for most people, according to Medicare.gov. It may cost more, depending on your income.

Both Part A and Part B have out-of-pocket coverage costs such as deductibles and co-payments.

Medicare Part A

Part A is hospital insurance and is the first half of Original Medicare. Its coverage includes inpatient hospital stays, hospice care, and skilled nursing facility care.

Generally, you must have Medicare Part A to get Medicare Parts B, C, or D.

It is free for most Medicare enrollees.

More than 50 million people were enrolled in Part A in 2012, according to CMS.

More info: Medicare Part A

Medicare Part B

Part B is medical insurance and is the second half of Original Medicare. Its coverage includes outpatient hospital care, preventative care, doctors services, and other non-emergency medical care.

You must pay a monthly premium to get Part B coverage.

You must have Part B to qualify for Medicare-related coverage like Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) and Medicare Supplement insurance.

More than 90% of people who enroll in Medicare added Part B coverage in 2012, according to CMS.

More info: Medicare Part B