President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. He also honored President Harry S. Truman by giving him the first Medicare card, because he was the first president to propose national health insurance. Since then, the Medicare program has evolved and improved. In 2003, President George Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to the Medicare program.
Medicare is a federally funded health insurance for seniors over the age of 65 years, certain younger people with disabilities, and End-Stage Renal Disease. People who have paid Medicare taxes may be eligible for Part A of Medicare, which includes hospitalization costs at no charge. Workers who earned 40 or more credits qualify for the program, which equates to approximately 10 years of working and paying Medicare taxes. If you don’t qualify for Medicare Part A based upon your own work records, you may qualify based upon your spouse’s work record, even if your spouse has passed away or you are divorced. Those who don’t qualify for Medicare premiums at no charge, may buy into the program by paying a monthly premium, which may be pro-rated based upon the number of work credits they have.
It’s a good idea to sign up for Medicare Part B at the right time, because failing to do so could cause a delay in coverage and generate permanent late penalties. You should also apply for Medicare Part D if you need prescription drug coverage. The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) was created in 1977 to administer Medicare and work with state governments to administer the program at the state level. The program was later renamed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. (HHS).
The average age of Medicare recipients in Sarasota County is 75 years old. Research shows that Sarasota County spent about $927 million dollars in Medicare funds in 2014, with per capita costs totaling $9,216. This compares with national per capita costs at $9,501, though Sarasota costs are increasing faster than the national average.
Every state has a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) that provides information about Medicare. The Florida state program is called Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE) and is administered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. The Area Agencies on Aging helps oversee the program and arranges for training the SHINE volunteers. SHINE keeps its program going strong by continually giving outreach presentations and public forums, in addition to participating in senior fairs and local health fairs to recruit volunteers and educate area seniors about the program. SHINE offers materials and fact sheets in English and Spanish to help meet the needs of the large Hispanic population in Sarasota. SHINE also offers translation services in Creole, Chinese, Tagalog, French and Vietnamese to meet the needs of the diverse populations in Florida.
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