Under Original Medicare, the government pays directly for the health care services you receive. You can use almost any doctor and hospital in the United States.
If you are in Original Medicare, you can see any doctor in the country that takes Medicare (and most do) by showing your red-white-and-blue Medicare card. You never have to get permission (“prior authorization”) from Original Medicare to see a doctor—even a specialist.
After you pay your monthly premium fees, you pay a coinsurance for each service you receive (“fee-for-service”). In Original Medicare, there are limits on how much doctors and hospitals can charge you.
It is a good idea to have supplemental insurance or your out-of-pocket costs with Original Medicare can be very high. You may get supplemental insurance, for example, from an employer or a “Medigap” policy that works specifically with Original Medicare. Supplemental coverage allows you to keep the flexibility of Original Medicare.
If you have low income, you may qualify for “Medicare Savings Programs” (MSPs) that can help pay for the out-of-pocket costs of Original Medicare.