Medicare was designed in 1965 to provide senior citizens and other eligible beneficiaries with affordable health care that would provide various coverage’s to millions of US citizens. The Medicare program has since evolved and the various levels of coverage, and who is covered, has changed and become complicated in the decades since the inception of the program.
Medicare is designed to provide coverage to all citizens 65 years of age and older who have paid into the Medicare program throughout their working lives. Individuals who have paid into the program will receive Medicare Part A and Part B without a monthly premium. The program is also open to those who only paid into the program for 10 or fewer years but at the cost of a reduced monthly premium. Individuals who do not meet the above requirements must pay a full monthly premium to enjoy the benefits of Part A and Part B coverage.
Medicare offers a wide array of coverage options to eligible citizens, beginning with the original Medicare plan of Part A and Part B. Medicare’s Part A coverage provides benefits to individuals to help cover the cost of hospital visits and associated expenses like medication for treatment, nursing services, and exams. Medicare Part B covers the cost of outpatient procedures and regular doctor visits including expenses related to doctor services, lab tests, and durable medical equipment. With Medicare Part A and Part B individuals can choose to see any doctor or visit any hospital that accepts Medicare insurance.
Medicare beneficiaries can expand their Medicare coverage by also enrolling in Part D for prescription drug coverage. Part D assists beneficiaries in covering costs related to necessary prescription drugs used to control illnesses and other conditions. Often times Part D does not cover the full cost of prescription drugs, leaving beneficiaries to pay a certain percentage of the cost of the medication.
Often times Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D do not cover the full cost of an individual’s health related expenses. Those who wish to can enroll in a Medicare Supplemental Insurance which will help avoid the extra cost of premiums, copayments, and coinsurance payments that are common in Part A and Part B. Beneficiaries must pay a monthly premium however to have Medigap coverage.
Conversely, individuals considering Medicare coverage can enroll in Medicare Part C which is also known as the Medicare Advantage Plan. The coverage offered by Medicare Part C is provided by private insurance companies whose services are approved by Medicare. While prescription drugs are often covered and there is no need for Medigap coverage, individuals often face monthly premiums to receive their health benefits and can only see doctors and visit hospitals approved by the insurance provider.
Medicare coverage can also be tailored to work with other insurances such as employer insurances, union insurance, Tricare, and Veteran’s benefits. Individuals can often retain their other insurance and still enroll in Medicare’s Prescription Drug Coverage and Supplemental coverage; but there are also situations depending upon insurance providers in which individuals must choose between the services offered by Medicare and those of their current insurance provider.