Understanding Medicare

On 01/26/2011, in My Health, by HCC

This is the first of a 2 part blog post on Medicare and what potential Medicare cuts would mean to the people on Medicare as well as what impact cuts would have on the federal budget.

Part 1: What is Medicare?

Understanding medicare is a monumental task.  Talks of increased cuts are constant but what does that mean for the 45 million people in the United States currently under the plan.  In a post of the New York Time’s Economix blog, Uwe Reinhardt summarized Medicare like this:

“The program now covers 45 million Americans 65 or older, as well as younger people with permanent disabilities[...]. About half of Medicare beneficiaries live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line (i.e., $20,800 annual income for a single person and $28,000 for a couple). Over a third of the beneficiaries are afflicted with three or more chronic conditions.”

That various parts of Medicare partially cover hospital expenses (Part A), outpatient preventative medicine (Part B), and prescription drugs (Part C, the newest edition to Medicare in 2003).  The care provided under Medicare can be fairly comprehensive, especially for those people participating in Part C Medicare coverage, which is both Part A and Part B coverage provided by a non-governmental insurance company.  And while care can be comprehensive, it can also fall short of realistic patient needs such as when a patient has Part A but not Part B and their hospital room is paid for but all doctors’ services must be paid out of pocket.

For a deeper understanding of who is covered and what services are covered visit Medicare.gov.  Next week we will look at Medicare costs and potential plan changes.

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