Medicare is the government’s national health insurance program. It started in 1965 and is administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It was originally under the Social Security Administration, but is now a separate entity. The program helps people get care for medical conditions that would otherwise be too expensive to cover. It’s a wonderful benefit for older Americans who are in poor health. It also helps people who have lost their jobs. However, Medicare has its drawbacks.
To get Part A premium-free coverage, you must be eligible for it based on your own earnings or the earnings of those who are covered under your family. You must have paid payroll taxes during your working years to qualify for premium-free coverage. You must have lived in the United States for at least five years in order to qualify for Part B. If you are an alien, you must be lawfully admitted to the United States for five years before filing your application for Medicare.
Part A covers hospitalization, skilled nursing facility care, and some home health visits. However, the benefits are subject to a deductible of $1364 per benefit period in 2019. Additionally, you must pay a coinsurance for any inpatient hospital stay that exceeds a two-year waiting period. Part B covers outpatient services, home health visits, and preventive services. The coinsurance for part B is 20%. Part B does not charge for annual wellness visits or preventive services that are rated as ‘A’ or ‘B’ by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
A good Medicare Advantage plan covers the standard benefits of Medicare Part A and Part B. However, you must be careful about which type of plan you choose. While most Medicare Advantage plans are open to any Medicare-accepting provider, some may have network restrictions. Despite the network restrictions, these plans offer more coverage than the traditional type of Medicare.
If you are 65 years old and want to start receiving Medicare benefits, you should know your eligibility period. This period runs from January 1 to March 31. It is important to understand that your coverage will begin the first of the month after you apply for coverage. However, if you’re under 65, you’ll start your coverage the month before your 65th birthday.
Medicare is facing several critical issues. It must provide quality health care to an aging population while keeping the program financially viable for future generations. While Medicare spending is currently at record lows, there are significant challenges ahead. One of these is the high cost of prescription drugs. The Medicare Trustees expect that Part D spending will grow at a higher rate in the coming years, due in part to the cost of specialty drugs.
Medicare is funded through payroll taxes on income. This tax is paid by both employers and employees. The money is then deposited into the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. This tax is higher for higher-income taxpayers. For example, people who make more than $250,000 must pay a higher payroll tax than those earning less than that amount.