As most people near the age of retirement, they wonder how their health insurance will change. Medicare is a federally funded plan for people aged 65 or older, people under the age of 65 with certain disabilities, and people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant).
What makes it a little bit different than some popular health insurance plans is that Medicare is covered in four specific parts:
Part A-Hospital Insurance (including in-patient care in hospitals), skilled nursing facilities, and some hospice and home health care. Part B-Medical Insurance (includes doctors’ services, outpatient care, and some other medical services that Part A doesn’t cover such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and some home health care when they are medically necessary). Part C-Medicare Advantage (A health plan that is offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide services for all of Part A and Part B through managed care entities, fee-for-service plans, special needs plans and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. Most plans include prescription drug plans for a higher premium). Part D-Prescription Drug Coverage (Became available to everyone with Medicare starting January 1, 2006. The coverage is provided by private companies).
Everyone can expect to pay something for Medicare Insurance, but they may not necessarily have to pay for all parts of Medicare. Most people who worked paid for Medicare through the Medicare taxes that they paid while they worked. Those who worked for at least 10 years will most likely have earned the 40 credits that they need to qualify for Part A coverage of Medicare without paying a premium. It’s also possible that a spouse, ex-spouse, or widow may qualify for Medicare based upon the Medicare taxes their spouse paid. Beneficiaries must meet certain conditions and may have to pay some premium funds.
While most people won’t have to pay anything towards Medicare Part A, most people will have to pay a monthly premium for Parts B and D. Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to select their own prescription drug plans. When looking for a Medicare prescription drug plan, it’s important to know that all plans don’t cover all prescription drugs. People with known medical conditions, or who take regularly prescribed medications will want to choose a drug plan that includes the prescriptions they take on a regular basis. It’s also important to know that for those who choose not to enroll in a prescription drug plan when they first become eligible, they may pay a penalty if they choose to join later.
Before enrolling in Medicare, learn more about Medicare on the website for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Sign up for Medicare on the Social Security website in the comfort of your own home using their easy, online application system. You can also sign up by visiting your local Social Security Administration office in person. The address in Lexington is 2241 Buena Vista Rd. Suite 110, Lexington, KY, 40505. You may also sign up using an independent health insurance broker.
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