Almost all Americans turning 65 become eligible to collect Medicare benefits. Medicare is important because this aging population typically requires more care and is at risk for the development of more health issues.
Most Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Part A generally covers hospital-related insurance and is offered to the beneficiary of the plan for free. Part B, on the other hand, usually requires the payment of a premium and encompasses other forms of medical insurance. Often times, Medicare beneficiaries use their part of their Social Security penefits to cover that cost.
Other Forms of Medicare
In addition to the traditional forms of Medicare discussed above, there are also supplemental forms of Medicare to consider. For instance, there is what is known as Medigap. Medigap is Medicare’s supplemental insurance system and it comes in a number of forms, designated plans A through N, each of which covers its own collection of services. Premiums attached will vary from plan to plan.
There are also Medicare Advantage options available, which is delivered by private insurance companies. These are actually different from Medigap, although it’s easy to confuse the two. Advantage is typically put in place instead of Medigap coverage, as opposed to in addition to it. Some Advantage plans don’t call for the payment of additional premiums and a few options even call for a refund of some of the Plan B premium.
Choosing Your Coverage
Which of the many Medicare options out there represents the best choice for you depends largely on your answer to a number of questions. To begin with, you will want to look into which plans are available in your area, as well as which plans are likely to include your existing hospital and doctor under coverage. (Most people prefer to stay with the health care provider and facility they know.)
Budgetary concerns are also something to consider. Some Medicare options are a lot more expensive than others and many offer much greater degrees of coverage. If you have certain medical conditions that will require special treatment or consideration, definitely keep those in mind when selecting your plan. Often, choosing the right coverage option for you involves weighing the benefits against the out of pocket costs and coming up with a happy medium that best covers all the bases.
These days, we’re seeing more and more people exploring the world of electric wheelchairs from manufacturers like Hoveround and The Scooter Store, and with good reason. Electric scooters can drastically reduce the number of injuries elderly and disabled people sustain because of the superior degree of mobility they offer. In many cases, electric scooters are covered by Medicare.
If you suffer from decreased mobility and think you may be able to benefit from a power wheelchair, then it may really pay off to speak to your doctor or your insurance company about the potential benefits sooner rather than later. Medicare will typically pay for up to 80% of the costs of your new power wheelchair. If you have supplemental insurance, the entire cost could be covered.
However, deciding which of the two biggest power wheelchair suppliers to choose can present something of a challenge until you know the details. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of each.
Hoveround has been in business for over 20 years helping people with limited mobility get around, so they definitely know their stuff when it comes to mobility. They provide a variety of different power chairs, electric scooters, and accessories in order to help each person find the option that will best fit their needs and their living space.. Hoveround has a proprietary design called Round for a Reason, which they say makes it easier to get around in than the competition. Most people cite this design as Hoveround’s major advantage. The product is guaranteed and delivered for free as well!
Scooter Store customers also cite the breadth of the product line and the superior degree of coverage provided by Medicare as selling points attached to the brand. Portable versions are even available to help people get around when they’re on the go. The Scooter Store is also well known for the high degree of customer service offered to potential owners. Often, reps will happily travel to your home and even offer to fill out all the paperwork for you for your convenience.
Which Is the Right Pick for You?
Ultimately, Hoveround and Scooter Store both offer high quality products, so the best option is to speak with a representative of each company and choose the product that best fits your needs.
When it comes to your health, there’s really no such thing as being too prepared. Luckily, there are options like Medigap available to help cover the cost of healthcare for people over 65.
What Is Medigap?
Medigap is a supplementary insurance option offered in tandem with traditional Medicare insurance. It’s provided to the recipient through private insurance companies, but the benefits are standardized, so beneficiaries can generally expect the same coverage for a policy of a given letter. For example, all Medigap Plan F policies have the same benefits. There are several Medigap options available for purchase, each covering its own variety of benefits. Some are basics included in all plans, like blood or standard hospital benefits that may not be covered by the primary Medicare plan. Others cover additional options like hospice care, home care options, and inpatient services. Premiums and estimated annual costs vary from plan to plan as well.
How Do I Qualify for Medigap?
There are no set time frames attached to joining or leaving supplemental Medigap plans offered by Medicare. However, in most cases it is required that you be in relatively good health at the time of application in order to qualify for benefits. Nevertheless, there are other times that people are able to enroll in a Medigap plan regardless of current health concerns.
Guaranteed issue periods of qualification for Medigap usually are when a given patient is a new recipient of either Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B and is at an age of 65 years of age or older. Furthermore, these guaranteed periods last from 3 months to 6 months before you actually begin Medicare, as well as half a year after the month you are recorded as meeting all of the criteria attached to the guarantee.
There are sometimes special circumstances involved that can also result in guaranteed coverage under Medigap. These include your plan provider stopping coverage in the area in which you live, or moving out of an area where you’re covered.
However, it’s important to note that eligibility for these are can vary from situation to situation and individual to individual. Get in touch with your Medicare agent for the current Medigap plan you’re considering, in order to determine whether or not you qualify.
Recently, President Barack Obama made public his plans for Medicare reform over the coming fiscal year. In a nutshell, his plan involves maintaining Medicare in its current form. However, his proposal also encourages emphasis on services of high value, as opposed to high cost by focusing on two areas:
1. Reform of the currently accepted payment system
2. The reduction of waste and fraudulent activity within the system itself
Premium Support under Obama’s Proposed Plan
Those who were worried about any possibility of Medicare or Medicaid becoming a premium, voucher-supported care system can rest easy. President Obama has made clear his opposition to any such implementation.
“What I will not support are efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher or Medicaid into a block grant,” the President is quoted as saying. “Doing so would weaken both programs and break the promise that we have made to American seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families–a promise I am committed to keeping.”
Proposed Payment Reform
President Obama has also made clear his intentions to help maintain and reinforce the stability of Medicare. To accomplish this stability, newer Medicare beneficiaries will be responsible for payment on certain services. Government payments to providers of Medicare services will also be reduced in cases of nonpayment on the part of policyholders. There are also plans in place to reduce the federal subsidy of Medicare-related costs for those in the highest income brackets.
The physician payment system is expected to undergo reforms as well. Under the currently implemented system, the payments given to physicians are being determined by SGR (short for sustainable growth rate). SGR has traditionally added up to reduced reimbursements to physicians. However, Obama and the current administration plan to streamline a brand new system that will make payment rates much more predictable in the long run.
Addressing Chronic Illness
Last but not least, Obama has announced plans to address the problem of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This will be done through expanded services through the ACA (Affordable Care Act). The aim is to detect these diseases and others like them early before they rage out of control in order to reduce the associated costs and improve the patient’s likelihood of recovery.
Hospice care is always an extremely difficult situation, but the financial stress of end of life care is one issue that isn’t often considered. Hospice allows terminally ill people, as well as their families, to continue to live their lives with the most possible comfort.
Hospice care is also a more flexible care option than many people realize. Some hospice care patients receive their care in designated care facilities, while others may be cared for in the comfort of their own homes. In addition to better-known medical care options, hospice can also involve counseling services for both the patient and their families.
What Portion of Hospice Care Is Covered by Medicare?
Thankfully, Medicare is available to help make sure that everything we and our loved ones need is provided should hospice become necessary. However, there are still rules and regulations involved as to how much hospice care is actually covered by Medicare.
A given Medicare recipient must be eligible for and covered by Medicare Part A. They also need to be on record of having a proposed life expectancy of half a year (6 months) or less in order to achieve eligibility. Hospice care differs from traditional medical care in that it is focused on making a given patient comfortable during their final months of life, as opposed to actually treating the disease or attempting to cure it.
The hospice benefits provided to Medicare beneficiaries generally cover four distinct levels of care.
The four levels of care are:
- Routine Home Care
- In-patient Care
- Respite Care
- Continuous Home Care
The most commonly utilized type of care is routine home care. Rates and eligibility attached to each level of care can vary, so you may want to get in touch with a Medicare insurance representative in order to obtain more information pertaining to your situation.
Some hospice care services are also covered under Medigap, Medicare’s supplemental insurance program. However, there are several Medigap plan options available, so whether or not you or your loved one will be covered will depend completely upon which of these plans they’ve subscribed to.
At the end of the day, the reality of situations that require hospice care can be hard to get through, but the process becomes infinitely easier with Medicare in your corner.