An introduction to Medicare in the United States

An introduction to Medicare in the United States

In the United States, medical care can be incredibly expensive and, in many cases, only more expensive with age and for those who have pre-existing conditions. Since the 1990s and 1960s, the federal government has been providing assistance to the elderly through the Medicare Program, which is a type of socialized health insurance, significantly increasing the number of seniors insured in the United States. Medicare is an insurance program administered by the federal government with the main objective of providing health insurance to people over 65. It is part of the Social Security program and was first created in 1965.

The main requirements for receiving Medicare is that the person is over sixty-five years old and has legally resided in the United States for at least five years. While the recipient, or their spouse, pays the Federal Health Care System for at least ten years as part of payroll taxes, only a limited monthly premium may be required. Otherwise, if the insured has not paid the payroll taxes, he will have a higher monthly premium.  While the main intention is to provide affordable medical care for the elderly, other people are also covered by Medicare. For example, people with disabilities may qualify for Medicare, especially if they have advanced kidney disease or Lou Gehrigs.

Medicare benefits can be quite extensive and can cover many conditions and instances. For example, most medical appointments and emergency care are covered, as are glasses, canes and wheelchairs, which are considered durable medical equipment. Of course, there are some restrictions on all these items, and in some cases a copayment is required. As an example, although assisted living is often covered, the nursing home must meet federal guidelines and be classified as a qualified center.

In the past twenty years, private insurance has also entered the Medicare industry, with alternatives to the federal health care program available. These plans, called Medicare Advantage Plans, must comply with various federal regulations and are funded by the federal government, but the current program is administered by private insurance companies.

Medicare Advantage plans may offer some advantages, but it is important to be careful when choosing one and compare your plans with what traditional Medicare provides. Although they must comply with federal guidelines, they have room to choose how to comply; therefore, they may have a higher premium for something like extended nursing care, while offering cheaper prescription drugs. Another recent change for Medicare is better prescription drug coverage. Before 2006, Medicare prescription drug coverage left a lot to be desired and, as a result, a law was passed to extend care. Medicare beneficiaries can now request a private prescription drug plan designed to cover the cost of most prescription drugs.