Medicare differs from private insurance available to working Americans in that it is a social insurance program. Social insurance programs provide statutorily guaranteed benefits to the entire population (under certain circumstances, such as old age or unemployment). These benefits are financed in significant part through universal taxes. In effect, Medicare is a mechanism by which the state takes a portion of its citizens' resources to provide health and financial security to its citizens in old age or in case of disability, helping them cope with the enormous, unpredictable cost of health care. In its universality, Medicare differs substantially from private insurers, which must decide whom to cover and what benefits to offer to manage their risk pools and ensure that their costs don't exceed premiums.
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Medicare contracts with regional insurance companies to process over one billion fee-for-service claims per year. In 2008, Medicare accounted for 13% ($386 billion) of the federal budget. In 2016 it is projected to account for close to 15% ($683 billion) of the total expenditures. For the decade 2010–2019 Medicare is projected to cost 6.4 trillion dollars.
For doctors and medical procedures (Part B) at the hospital and at home: The patient would pay 20 percent of all costs after meeting the $185 deductible. Unlike many other health insurance policies, there is no cap or maximum out-of-pocket amount on what a person could owe. The American Heart Association says that the minimum cost of bypass heart surgery is $85,891, in which case, the Part B copay would be over $17,000.
Generally, Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, younger people with disabilities and people with End Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant). Medicare has two parts, Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medicare Insurance). You are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are age 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. You can get Part A at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:
A federal law passed in 2003 created a “competition” requirement for Medicare Cost plans, which stipulated the plans could not be offered in service areas where there was significant competition from Medicare Advantage plans. Congress delayed implementation of the requirement several times until a law passed in 2015 that called for the rule to take effect in 2019.