Medicare is one of the most widely used government programs in existence, but also one of the most commonly misunderstood. Despite being bombarded by commercials and advertisements related to it on a daily basis, many people in Murfreesboro and across the country lack a basic understanding of exactly what it does.
Simply put, Medicare is a government-funded program that provides assistance for various medical related expenses. It was originally designed to help senior citizens with the rising costs of healthcare. To qualify for Medicare, a person must be at least 65 years old and meet the following two criteria: They must be a U.S. citizen for at least the previous five years, and they (or their spouse) must have worked in the U.S. for at least 10. Individuals with certain disabilities are also eligible for Medicare benefits, as is anyone who has received Social Security disability for at least two years.
Medicare is divided into four main parts, with each section having its own individual area of coverage.
Medicare Part A is the basic form of coverage and it provides assistance to patients who require overnight hospitalization (in-patient procedures). It also helps pay for short stays (under 100 days) in nursing facilities. Because it is the most basic form of Medicare coverage, it is free to almost everyone who qualifies for Medicare, as it is paid through various income taxes deducted from a person’s paychecks over the course of their lifetime.
Medicare Part B is often purchased in conjunction with Part A, and it provides coverage for outpatient procedures at a hospital or physician’s office. This includes x-rays, bone density screenings, blood tests, vaccinations, etc. Routine physical examinations and annual check-ups are included as well. Certain emergency care is also covered, including stitches, treatment of broken bones, and sudden illnesses. Part B also provides patients with coverage for various medical equipment, including scooters, wheelchairs, and walkers. Unlike Part A, Part B requires a monthly premium (currently between $96 and $116, depending on income).
Medicare Part D helps patients with their prescription drug costs. Like Part B, it is optional and patients can decide if they want to enroll. It also has a monthly premium. Patients must pay a $310 deductible, and then they are responsible for a 25% coinsurance fee on all medications up to the initial coverage limit of $2,830.
Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage, and it is provided by private insurance companies in Murfreesboro and throughout the country as a way to consolidate Part A and B into a single cohesive plan. Medicare Part D can also be added to Medicare Advantage to further broaden a patient’s coverage. Medicare Advantage offers certain benefits over standard Medicare, including the option for dental and vision insurance, as well as complementary health club memberships. Some plans offer extra perks including disease management programs and preventative health programs as well.
Medicare Advantage is typically cheaper than most other plans due to its lower monthly premium, but it leaves patients responsible for a larger percentage of their co-payments. It is also more restrictive than standard Medicare, as it operates under a network of approved physicians and hospitals. In order to receive coverage for services, patients must only seek treatment at these approved facilities. If they go to a facility outside of the network, they can be charged a penalty fee. Murfreesboro residents who are considering purchasing a Medicare Advantage plan should find out which doctors and hospitals would be in their network before they receive treatment.