Questions You Should Ask About Medicare

Medicare, the national social insurance program of the United States, was originally designed for the elderly who usually had to pay three times as much for health insurance. Since 1966, Medicare has come a long way, now covering over 50 million Americans. Medicare has expanded to include people who are physically incapable of working. Part of Medicare is heavily funded by payroll taxes, but it also comes from trust funds and income taxes paid for by social security benefits.Overall Medicare is more complicated than it seems, and many do not understand just how it works. If you are interested in enrolling, here are some questions you should ask about Medicare.

Do I qualify for Medicare?

As long as you are a United States citizen or legal resident over the age of 65 who has worked long enough to receive social security you are eligible for Medicare. If not, you may have a spouse that has worked long enough to qualify, in which you can enroll in Medicare by the age of 62, even if your spouse is deceased or you have divorced them or you are in a same-sex marriage living in a state that recognizes it. Government employees or retiree only need to pay Medicare payroll taxes. When neither you nor your spouse worked long enough to qualify, then you must be a citizen or legal resident for 5 years, but you'll have to pay maximum premiums. If you are under the age of 65, there are a few circumstances in which you can qualify for Medicare. If you suffer from Lou Gehrig's disease or permanent kidney damage, or you have been receiving disability benefits for at least two years, you can qualify regardless of your age.

What are the different parts of Medicare?

Medicare Part A covers hospital, nursing and hospice care, as well as home health services. Medicare Part A will usually cover hospital stays for a maximum of 90 days, with the first 60 days paid in full. Medicare Part B covers medical services and supplies. For doctor visits, lab tests and surgeries, Part B covers these medically necessary services, as well as supplies like walkers and wheelchairs. Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage plans provided by private companies, include parts A and B, and often offer additional coverage like vision, dental and hearing. Medicare Part Dis a prescription drug coverage plan offered to everyone with Medicare. You can also get prescription drug coverage through Part C.

What is not covered?

Medicare Parts A and B do not cover long-term care. It also does not cover dental care, or eye examinations for the purpose of providing prescription lenses. Likewise, hearing aids and dentures are not covered. However, some Part C plans may cover the costs of these things. Further, unnecessary care like cosmetic surgery, acupuncture and pedicures will not be covered either.

Will it cost me?

Usually you will not have to pay monthly premiums for Part A coverage, but if you do it can cost up to $407 per month. However, most people pay a standard premium of $104.90 per month for Medicare Part B. If you cannot afford these plans then the state may assist you. Part C costs will depend on the plan you choose. Part D coverage costs will depend on the drugs used and the plan you choose.

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