Health insurance is a crucial part of life for many Americans. A safety net helps pay for medical care if you get sick or injured by covering preventive screenings and services. Medicare is a government-sponsored program specifically for people 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, people with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). There are four parts of Medicare, Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D. Each covers different services. Here we will discuss each part in more detail.
1. Part A Hospital Coverage
Part A covers inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, home health care, and hospice care. The inpatient hospital care includes a semi-private room, food, and tests. Professional nursing facility care is for people who need ongoing care but don’t need to be in the hospital. It can include physical therapy, speech therapy, and other types of rehabilitation. Home health care is for people who need intermittent nursing care, physical therapy, or other health services in their homes.
Hospice is for terminally ill people who have decided to focus on comfort rather than a cure. Registration for Part A is automatic if you’re already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. You can sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) if you aren’t. The IEP is a 7-month period that starts three months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after the month you turn 65. You can also sign up during the General Enrollment Period (GEP), which runs from January 1 to March 31.
2. Part B Medical Coverage
Part B covers doctor’s visits, preventive services, outpatient care, mental health services, and some home health services. It also covers some durable medical equipment, such as walkers and wheelchairs. Part B has a monthly premium, and you must pay an annual deductible before your coverage begins. Suppose you’re already receiving benefits from Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board, or the Office of Personnel Management. In that case, you’ll automatically enroll in Part B. Before registering, consider your existing health insurance. If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Medical Savings Account (MSA), you may want to keep that coverage instead of Part B. To get Part B, you must live in the United States or one of its territories and have a valid Social Security number.
3. Part C Medicare Advantage Plans
Part C is an alternative to Original Medicare. It’s also known as Medicare Advantage. With Part C, you get your Part A and Part B coverage through a private insurance company. Some Part C plans also cover prescription drugs and some other supplies. Most Part C plans have an annual deductible and copayments or service coinsurance. The benefits and costs vary by company and location.
Check with your plan about when you can enroll. If you are already enrolled in Part A and Part B, you can switch to a Part C plan during the Annual Election Period (AEP), which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. These plans usually have network restrictions, so you’ll want to ensure your doctors and hospitals are in-network before enrolling. The federal government limits how much these plans can charge for premiums and out-of-pocket costs. To save money, you should compare the prices of different Part C plans before you enroll.
4. Part D Prescription Drug Coverage
Original Medicare does not cover the cost of prescription drugs. Part D is a voluntary prescription drug benefit you can get through a private insurance company. You must have Part A or Part B to enroll in Part D. The costs and coverage vary by company and location. It covers generic, brand-name, and some specialty drugs. Insurance companies can offer different Part D plans each year. Compare before you enroll. Use a pharmacy in your plan’s network to get the best deals on prescription drugs.
The policies are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. Check with your insurance company, agent, or broker to see if they offer Medicare Advantage plans. A formulary lists the drugs covered by a Part D plan. You can use the Medicare Plan Finder to compare formularies and find other information about Part D plans. This list is compiled by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The health sector is an essential aspect of every society. It is a fundamental human right to have access to quality health care. The government, private insurance companies, and individual consumers all play a role in financing and delivering health care services. The federal government is committed to providing quality health care for all Americans through programs like Medicare and Medicaid. However, many challenges still need to be addressed in terms of access, affordability, and quality.