Do you have fairly frequent doctor or hospital visits? If so, you may already know that Medicare Part A and Part B come with out-of-pocket costs you have to pay. You might be able to save money with a Medicare Supplement insurance plan. Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, insurance plans fill in “gaps” in basic benefits left behind by Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.
After you meet your Medicare Part A deductible, Part A requires a coinsurance payment of $341 per day (in 2019) for days 61-90 of an inpatient hospital stay. The coinsurance is $682 per day for a hospital stay that lasts longer than 90 days, but only for up to 60 additional lifetime reserve days. After that point, Medicare Part A holds you responsible for all costs.
Robert M. Ball, a former commissioner of Social Security under President Kennedy in 1961 (and later under Johnson, and Nixon) defined the major obstacle to financing health insurance for the elderly: the high cost of care for the aged combined with the generally low incomes of retired people. Because retired older people use much more medical care than younger employed people, an insurance premium related to the risk for older people needed to be high, but if the high premium had to be paid after retirement, when incomes are low, it was an almost impossible burden for the average person. The only feasible approach, he said, was to finance health insurance in the same way as cash benefits for retirement, by contributions paid while at work, when the payments are least burdensome, with the protection furnished in retirement without further payment. In the early 1960s relatively few of the elderly had health insurance, and what they had was usually inadequate. Insurers such as Blue Cross, which had originally applied the principle of community rating, faced competition from other commercial insurers that did not community rate, and so were forced to raise their rates for the elderly.