Medicare has been operated for just over a half century and, during that time, has undergone several changes. Since 1965, the program's provisions have expanded to include benefits for speech, physical, and chiropractic therapy in 1972. Medicare added the option of payments to health maintenance organizations (HMO) in the 1970s. As the years progressed, Congress expanded Medicare eligibility to younger people with permanent disabilities who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and to those with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The association with HMOs that began in the 1970s was formalized and expanded under President Bill Clinton in 1997 as Medicare Part C (although not all Part C health plans sponsors have to be HMOs, about 75% are). The "C" stands for Choice (but of course it is also the third Part of Medicare). In 2003, under President George W. Bush, a Medicare program for covering almost all self-administered prescription drugs was passed (and went into effect in 2006) as Medicare Part D (previously and still, professionally administered drugs such as chemotherapy but even the annual flu shot—which was first covered under President George H. W. Bush—are covered under Part B).
*Pre-existing conditions are generally health conditions that existed before the start of a policy. They may limit coverage, be excluded from coverage, or even prevent you from being approved for a policy; however, the exact definition and relevant limitations or exclusions of coverage will vary with each plan, so check a specific plan’s official plan documents to understand how that plan handles pre-existing conditions
The standardized Medigap plans each cover certain Medicare out-of-pocket costs to at least some degree. Every Medigap plan covers up to one year of Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs after Medicare benefits are used up. But, for example, Medigap Plan G plans don’t cover your Medicare Part B deductible, while Medigap Plan C plans do. So, if you’d like to enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you might want to compare the Medigap policies carefully.
The PPACA also made some changes to Medicare enrollee's' benefits. By 2020, it will "close" the so-called "donut hole" between Part D plans' initial spend phase coverage limits and the catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket spending, reducing a Part D enrollee's' exposure to the cost of prescription drugs by an average of $2,000 a year. That is, the template co-pay in the gap (which legally still exists) will be the same as the template co-pay in the initial spend phase, 25%. This lowered costs for about 5% of the people on Medicare. Limits were also placed on out-of-pocket costs for in-network care for public Part C health plan enrollees. Most of these plans had such a limit but ACA formalized the annual out of pocket spend limit. Beneficiaries on traditional Medicare do not get such a limit but can effectively arrange for one through private insurance.
This absolutely varies by region. Since Medicare supplement insurance plans are standardized, you don’t have to worry about benefits being different. This means you’ll want to scout out the Medicare gap plans with the lowest rates in your area. The best supplemental insurance rates will be different in each state, and your age, gender, tobacco usage and eligibility for household discount also affect your rate.
"For the more discerning client who prefers consultation to traditional therapy, my sessions are designed to be brief, solution-focused, and trimmed of unnecessary fat. You and I will arrange for a mutually convenient time to conduct sessions either over the phone or through Skype. We will identify the problem, troubleshoot the solution, and implement a strategy to fix it. Whether your struggle is internal or relational, there is no such thing as a problem without a solution. I work primarily with clients with substance use disorders and/or trauma."
Blue Cross Blue Shield provides Medicare Supplement insurance and personalized, affordable health plans to more than 106 million Americans, equal to nearly one out of every three health insurance consumers across the country. Around 95 percent of hospitals, specialists and doctors contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield companies, the highest percentage among health care insurers.
You can apply online for Medicare even if you are not ready to retire. Use our online application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. Otherwise, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail. Learn more about your Medicare card.
Roughly nine million Americans—mostly older adults with low incomes—are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. These men and women tend to have particularly poor health – more than half are being treated for five or more chronic conditions—and high costs. Average annual per-capita spending for "dual-eligibles" is $20,000, compared to $10,900 for the Medicare population as a whole all enrollees.
Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers except hospice care. Original Medicare covers hospice care even if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you’re always covered for emergency and urgent care. Medicare Advantage Plans must offer emergency coverage outside of the plan’s service area (but not outside the U.S.). Many Medicare Advantage Plans also offer extra benefits such as dental care, eyeglasses, or wellness programs. Most Medicare Advantage Plans include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In addition to your Part B premium, you usually pay one monthly premium for the plan’s medical and prescription drug coverage. Plan benefits can change from year to year. Make sure you understand how a plan works before you join.
However, you may have to wait up to six months for coverage if you have a pre-existing health condition. The insurer through which you buy your Medigap policy can refuse to cover out-of-pocket costs for pre-existing conditions during that period. After six months, the Medigap policy must cover the pre-existing condition. The exception to this rule is if you buy a Medigap policy during your open enrollment period and have had continuous "creditable coverage," or a health insurance policy for the six months before buying a policy. The Medigap insurance company cannot withhold coverage for a pre-existing condition in that case.
Basic Plan helps cover Medicare's Parts A and B coinsurance, hospice care coinsurance, skilled nursing facility coinsurance, Home Health Care Services, Medical Supplies, and foreign travel emergency care. Extended Basic Plan provides the same benefits listed for the Basic Plan, plus benefits for Medicare's Part A hospital deductible, Medicare's Part B deductible, non-Medicare eligible expenses, and preventive medical care when not paid by Medicare.
A better strategy is to estimate your total out-of-pocket costs under the plan. Take a look at your past medical needs and consider what care you might need in the year ahead. Then add up the copays, deductibles, and coinsurance payments you are likely to pay. Your insurer may have an online cost estimator tool that may help, and you can find more resources here. Don't forget to do a separate calculation for your prescription drug costs.
In 2006, the SGR mechanism was scheduled to decrease physician payments by 4.4%. (This number results from a 7% decrease in physician payments times a 2.8% inflation adjustment increase.) Congress overrode this decrease in the Deficit Reduction Act (P.L. 109-362), and held physician payments in 2006 at their 2005 levels. Similarly, another congressional act held 2007 payments at their 2006 levels, and HR 6331 held 2008 physician payments to their 2007 levels, and provided for a 1.1% increase in physician payments in 2009. Without further continuing congressional intervention, the SGR is expected to decrease physician payments from 25% to 35% over the next several years.
Some Medicare Supplement plans also help pay for a few services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as emergency overseas travel coverage or Part B excess charges. Two out of ten Medigap plans include a yearly out-of-pocket limit, which Original Medicare doesn’t include. Basically, a Medigap policy fills the “gaps” in Original Medicare coverage.
Buying a policy can be complicated, so get help and find a helpful policy provider. There are many coverage choices available, and the right plan may help you significantly reduce unwanted medical costs. Before you sign up, it’s a good idea to have a friend or family member review your policy. If that’s not an option, we found the following companies were the best and therefore should be a good choice.
Just to make life truly confusing, the various options offered by Medigap are also sorted by letter. The choices are Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N. What these plans include is standardized by Medicare. The cost for them can vary, however, so it's worth shopping around. Joseph Graves, insurance agent and founder of “I Hate Buying Insurance,” says many people enroll in Plan F, the most expensive choice, because it covers nearly all the gaps. A person with Plan F coverage will have few or no out-of-pocket expenses, however, by the end of 2019, plan F will no longer be available to new Medicare enrollees.
Most Medicare Part B enrollees pay an insurance premium for this coverage; the standard Part B premium for 2019 is $135.50 a month. A new income-based premium surtax schema has been in effect since 2007, wherein Part B premiums are higher for beneficiaries with incomes exceeding $85,000 for individuals or $170,000 for married couples. Depending on the extent to which beneficiary earnings exceed the base income, these higher Part B premiums are from 30% to 70% higher with the highest premium paid by individuals earning more than $214,000, or married couples earning more than $428,000.
A Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO) is another Medicare health plan choice you may have as part of Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you still have Medicare. You will get your Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) coverage from the Medicare Advantage plan and no Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers except hospice care. Original Medicare covers hospice care even if you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans aren’t supplemental coverage. Medicare Advantage plans may offer extra coverage, such as vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In most cases, you can join a Medicare Advantage plan only at certain times during the year.
MedicareWire.com is privately owned and operated. We are a non-government resource, providing information about senior health insurance, Medicare, life insurance and other senior products for consumer research and education. This website and its contents are for informational purposes only. If you're looking for the government's Medicare website, please browse to www.medicare.gov.
When you apply for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down. However, if you decide to enroll in Part B later on, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.
The current disenrollment opportunity applies only to people who have a Medicare Advantage plan. (If you already chose original Medicare, you have to stick with it for 2019.) So if you’re unhappy with your Advantage plan—maybe you find it more expensive than you expected or it doesn’t cover all the services you need—now is the time to make a change.
The original program included Parts A and B. Part-C-like plans have existed as demonstration projects in Medicare since the early 1970s, but the Part was formalized by 1997 legislation. Part D was enacted by 2003 legislation and introduced January 1, 2006. Previously coverage for self-administered prescription drugs, if desired, was obtained by private insurance or through a public Part C plan (or by one of its predecessor demonstration plans before enactment).
This measure involves only Part A. The trust fund is considered insolvent when available revenue plus any existing balances will not cover 100 percent of annual projected costs. According to the latest estimate by the Medicare trustees (2018), the trust fund is expected to become insolvent in 8 years (2026), at which time available revenue will cover around 85 percent of annual projected costs for Part A services. Since Medicare began, this solvency projection has ranged from two to 28 years, with an average of 11.3 years. This and other projections in Medicare Trustees reports are based on what its actuaries call intermediate scenario but the reports also include worst-case and best case scenarios that are quite different (other scenarios presume Congress will change present law).
Part A Late Enrollment Penalty If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A, and you don't buy a premium-based Part A when you're first eligible, your monthly premium may go up 10%. You must pay the higher premium for twice the number of years you could have had Part A, but didn't sign-up. For example, if you were eligible for Part A for 2 years but didn't sign-up, you must pay the higher premium for 4 years. Usually, you don't have to pay a penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part A during a Special Enrollment Period.