Good question. Not sure anyone really knows the answer. The truth is very few people understand what Medicare is and how it works. This includes current and future recipients. If you watch much television, you see a myriad of commercials describing Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplemental pans. What are those plans and why would you need them if you have Medicare? Wouldn’t these alternatives complicate what some Presidential candidates would have you believe is a simple means of providing health care for all?
There is no short answer to these questions and anything else related to Medicare. That said, one accurate statement can be made with respect to traditional Medicare: IT IS NOT FREE. What about it isn’t free? Are there monthly premiums? Does it cover all medical expenses? Why is there so much media hype surrounding health care costs for seniors if the have Medicare?
A few bare bones facts. Traditional Medicare Part B has a monthly premium which depends on income. This part of Medicare applies to physician expenses and other non-hospital related charges. It only covers 80% of charges after the deductible is met, so the rest is the individual’s responsibility. And the physician has to accept Medicare patients in order for the individual to use the coverage. Part A, which applies to hospitalization, has no premiums for those individuals who have paid Medicare taxes for thirty quarters, and has its own set of deductibles and coinsurance. Prescription drugs are yet another segment of Medicare, Part D, with its own premiums, coverage and deductibles. One additional component of Medicare is Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage. This coverage is offered through insurance companies in order to reduce the costs to subscribers, but there are still expenses associated with this coverage.
If you are a Medicare novice (we all are), then you will have many more questions. Medicare is one of the most complicated health care questions out there. Certainly if you’re enrolled in your employer’s health insurance plan you’ll want to know how Medicare would fit into it. How the government would pay for this may be the biggest question. Medicare, as it is currently structured, will require premium increases and benefit cuts to remain solvent as the aging population increases.
Health insurance issues have no easy answers. They need to be specifically addressed. Just saying “Medicare for All” won’t do it.