Lesson 1

What is Medicare?

Embark on your swing through the world of Medicare with us. Let's break down the costs you might face when you're out on the green with Original Medicare alone. We'll then guide you to the extra coverage and peace of mind that our Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans offer.

But, before we take that shot, let's make sure we're all teeing off from the same fairway. Medicare, the health insurance program from the federal government, caters to folks aged 65 and older, and certain younger individuals with disabilities.

Now, take a look below at this handy chart. It's like your golf scorecard, laying out the basics with Part A and Part B. Then, it dives into the options – whether you prefer to swing with Part C, your Medicare Advantage, or take the strategic approach with a Medicare Supplement paired with Part D for prescriptions. Let's make sure you've got the perfect club for your health and well-being.

Original Medicare

Alright, let's talk about Original Medicare – it has Parts A & B and comes from the government. But here's the thing: it's not enough on its own. Why, you ask? Well, we'll point out the big issues with Original Medicare in red. Don't worry, though – we'll cover you from these issues with either a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement, which we'll discuss in more detail later in Lesson 2.

Medicare Part A (Hospital)

Alright, let's talk about Medicare Part A – the hole-in-one of hospital coverage! It's like sinking that perfect putt, making sure your stay at the hospital or nursing facility is covered, and everyone's par for the course. Now, what's in the bag?

What does Medicare Part A Cover?

  • Inpatient care in hospital
  • Inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility
  • Home health care
  • Hospice care

But, just like navigating the bunkers, there are costs to consider.

Out of Pocket Costs & Deductibles

For most Americans, the Part A has no monthly premium ($0/month)— a sweet swing!

However, if you haven't been on the fairway of Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters (10 years), the premiums come into play.

  • 0-29 working quarters: $505/month
  • 30-39 working quarters: $278/month
  • 40+ working quarters: $0/month
  • Inpatient deductible: $1,632 (covers hospital fees for up to 60 days)
  • Inpatient Coinsurance days 61-90: $408/day
  • Inpatient Coinsurance Days 91-150: $816/day
  • Skilled Nursing Facility Coinsurance days 21-100: $204/day

But hey, no need to worry about getting stuck in the rough – we'll tee up how a Medicare Advantage plan or Supplement can cover these costs later on. Stay on course with us!

Medicare Part B (Doctors)

In the world of golf health, think of Medicare Part B as your go-to club for outpatient coverage. It's like the all-around tool that covers nearly every other medical service you might need, stepping in when you're outside the realm of inpatient hospital fees.

What does Medicare Part B Cover?

Let's break down Medicare Part B in the golf course of health coverage:

  • Physician Services
  • Outpatient hospital services
  • Certain home health services
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Other medical services not covered by Part A

Out of Pocket Costs & Deductibles

  • $174.70/month: Just like selecting the right club for your shot, single Americans making $103,000 or less/year, and couples making $206,000 or less/year pay $174.70/month for their Medicare Part B premium. Social Security sets this yearly, and if you make more, there's an additional premium.
  • $240/yr deductible: Before your healthcare game with Original Medicare gets underway, you need to meet a $240 yearly deductible – consider it your entry fee to the course.
  • 20% coinsurance: After clearing the deductible, it's like a golf match where Medicare covers 80% of the medical bills, leaving you with the remaining 20%. Unfortunately, there's no cap or out-of-pocket maximum, so you need to be prepared for the full round.
  • 15% Excess charge: While most doctors play fair and accept Medicare as full payment, there's a chance of a 15% excess charge – like an unexpected bunker. It's allowed, and there's no maximum, so it's essential to be aware of the potential hazards.

Rest assured, we're here to guide you through covering all those costs we've discussed for Part B. From deductibles to coinsurance, we'll explore how Medicare Advantage or a Supplement plan can step in to provide comprehensive coverage. Keep in mind, though, that while we can address these expenses, the Part B premium remains a constant. It's like your baseline fee to access the golf course – essential, but we'll focus on optimizing the rest of your healthcare game.

Example of having Original Medicare only

Imagine navigating the health course with just Original Medicare – it's like playing without a caddy. You find yourself needing surgery at the hospital. First, you face the $1,632 Part A deductible for the hospital, a hurdle akin to the tricky bunkers on a golf course.

Then, there's the $240 Part B deductible for the doctor – think of it as an unexpected rough patch on the fairway. But here's where it gets challenging. For the surgery, you're on the hook for 20% of the doctor's total charge, and let's say that's $50,000. That's an additional $10,000 you need to swing for, much like navigating through a demanding course where each hole brings its own set of costs.

Now, here's the real kicker – with Original Medicare alone, there's no limit on how many times this scenario could repeat. It's like facing an endless golf course without a maximum out-of-pocket limit, where the financial challenges keep coming without a cap. That's why exploring supplemental plans or a Medicare Advantage plan with a Prescription Drug plan (MAPD) is like having a seasoned caddy to help you navigate and strategize your way through the health course.

Additional “Optional” Coverage

As you can see, Original Medicare on its own leaves much to be desired and a significant financial liability. Additional coverage is offered by private insurance companies. You have 2 routes to choose from. You can either combine Original Medicare with a Medicare Supplement Policy & Prescription Drug Plan**, or get all Original Medicare’s A&B coverage with Part D prescription drug coverage included from a Medicare Advantage Policy (Part C).

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)

Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, introduces a different approach to your healthcare game. Instead of navigating the 20% coinsurance and high deductibles of Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, a form of private insurance, step in to cover all your Medicare Parts A & B benefits. It's like having a personalized golf coach guiding you through the course.

Most Medicare Advantage plans go the extra mile by including Part D, bringing your hospital, medical, and prescription drug insurance under one comprehensive plan. Now, instead of facing the uncertainties of Original Medicare, you're subject to the copays of your Medicare Advantage Plan, capped by their yearly Maximum Out of Pocket – think of it as a predictable score for your health game.

What can Medicare Advantage include?

  • Original Medicare lacks coverage for Prescription Drugs, Dental, Vision, or Hearing.
  • Medicare Advantage plans are mandated to cover, at a minimum, all benefits included in Original Medicare.
  • Extras – Medicare Advantage may even provide additional coverage beyond Original Medicare Part A & B, such as drug coverage and more.

Stay tuned for Lesson 2, where we'll delve deeper into the intricacies of Medicare Advantage Plans and enrollment.

Medicare Supplement + Medicare Part D (Prescription Drugs)

As we conclude this chapter, let's touch on another avenue for additional coverage – Medicare Supplement + Medicare Part D (Prescription Drugs). It's like having a tailored set of clubs for different shots on the health course.

If you choose to maintain your Original Medicare through the federal government, joining a Medicare supplement plan (Medigap) and/or a prescription drug plan becomes a strategic move. These are two separate plans, working alongside your Original Medicare.

The Medicare supplement plan acts as your reliable caddy, picking up most of what Original Medicare doesn't cover for your Part A hospital and Part B doctor services. It's there to ensure you're well-equipped on the health course.

Meanwhile, Medicare Part D, provided by private insurers, tackles the prescription drug game. This plan helps you sidestep a 1% penalty and comes with a monthly premium determined by the private insurer. Consider it your specialized club to handle the unique challenges of prescription drug costs.

With this glimpse into additional coverage options, we're set to tee off into Lesson Two, where we'll explore Medicare Advantage and supplements in more detail. Get ready for a deeper dive into the strategies that can elevate your healthcare game to new heights.

Ready for the next lesson?

Lesson 2: Medicare Supplement & Medicare Advantage Plans

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