What is Medicare?
Medicare is the United States’ health insurance program for anyone 65 or older as well as younger people with certain disabilities and illnesses. Medicare Part A goes into effect automatically when you reach 65 years old. Although there are some co-payments and a yearly deductible, it’s basically free. That’s the easy part. The hard part is that Medicare does not cover all medical expenses, including most preventative and long-term care.
In order to make sure your parent or loved one has the coverage they’ll need, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with Medicare in all its forms. Get to know the basics here, then visit www.medicare.gov to learn all the nitty gritty details. It may be a bit time consuming at first, but doing your homework now will save you time and money in the long run – not to mention all that hair you won’t be pulling out.
Medicare Part A
This is the government’s birthday present for everyone who turns 65. Here’s what it covers, with some restrictions:
- Hospice care
- Home health care
- Skilled nursing after a hospital stay
- Inpatient hospital stay
Medicare Part B
Although Part B falls under the “Original Medicare” category, it’s optional and requires a monthly premium and has a deductible. It helps pay for:
- Doctor’s bills
- Outpatient hospital care
- Home-based physical therapy
- Lab tests
- Limited prescriptions
- Some other services deemed medically necessary by a physician
If your parent has other insurance, this coverage may not be needed.
Medicare Part D
This is optional drug coverage available to anyone eligible for Medicare. It is offered through insurance companies and requires a co-pay, monthly premium, and yearly deductible.
Medigap/Medicare Advantage - Sometimes Called Part C
Because there are a lot of gaps in Medicare coverage, private insurance companies offer supplemental policies, which can help cover co-payments and deductibles or some services not covered by Medicare.
There are two major types of supplemental policies: Medigap and Medicare Advantage. Plans vary by state and sometimes by zip code, so check with a trusted insurance broker to see which plan would best suit your loved one.