Medicare has been around for over 4 decades and has morphed into more than President Lyndon Johnson could have imagined back in the day. The government insurance program offered to seniors and people with disabilities has helped millions of low income Americans get affordable healthcare. Medicare is paid for by working Americans through taxes. Most US citizens that reach the age of 65 will benefit from it. In recent years, this program has incurred much debate about the direction and reform it needs in order to offer seniors and the disabled better healthcare options.
While many Americans have yet to enter retirement age, it is important to know about Medicare and how your tax dollars are helping millions of retirees. Here are seven things everyone should know about Medicare.
Different parts have different costs
Medicare comes in four parts. Part A covers hospital costs and is free for you and your spouse if you have paid into it for at least a decade. Parts B and C offers services that Part A does not but comes at a monthly cost that will vary slightly depending on state and region. Parts D covers prescription drugs and comes at an additional cost as well.
Medigap offers additional options
If you are receiving the traditional Medicare benefits, it would be beneficial for you to have a Medigap plan. It is offered by a private insurance, and covers the areas that Medicare does not address. Keep in mind that you can be charged extra or denied service if you sign up for Medigap 6 months after you pick your Medicare plan.
If you make more, you will pay more
Individuals earning more than $80,000 or couples making more than $170,000 per year will have to pay anywhere between $146.90 and $335.70 more per month for part B and between $11.60 and 66.40 for part D.
Part D offers you more services and saves you money
The cost for prescribed medication will decrease gradually starting in 2013. So by 2020 beneficiaries will only have to pay 25% of the total cost of their prescription drugs. What’s more is that Part D offers its beneficiaries additional preventative services such as screenings for some types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, mammograms, and flu shots.
Medicare does not cover long-term care
It covers the necessary hospital visits to treat immediate health problems without offering an assistance for the recovery period.
Decisions can be appealed
If a service or a payment is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. Make sure to gather all the information needed so you have a stronger case.
You are eligible for Medicare at 65. If you already receive benefits, you will be automatically signed up for part A and B (which you could chose to change). If you don’t, make sure to sign up three months before your 65th birthday. Medicare gives you a 7 month window for initial enrollment.