Original Medicare consists of Part A and Part B. If you have Original Medicare, the government pays directly for the health care services you receive. Additionally, enrolling in Original Medicare means:

  • You will receive a red, white, and blue Medicare card to show to your providers
  • Most doctors in the country take your insurance
  • Medicare limits how much you can be charged if you visit participating and non-participating providers, but it does not limit how much you can be charged if you visit providers who opt out of Medicare
  • You can see a specialist without prior authorization
  • You are responsible for Original Medicare cost-sharing, which may include premiums, deductibles, and coinsurances
  • You are eligible to enroll in a Medigap policy, which can help reduce your out-of-pocket costs

If you sign up for Original Medicare and later decide you would like to try a Medicare Advantage Plan—or vice versa—be aware that there are certain enrollment periods when you are allowed to make coverage changes.

Original Medicare does not include the prescription drug benefit (Part D), which is only offered through private companies. You should consider signing up for a separate Part D plan to ensure that you have coverage for your prescription drug needs.