Sup­ple­ment poli­cies help pay costs for Medi­care

Albuquerque Journal - - SENIOR LIVING - BY NICOLE TIGGEMANN Nicole Tiggemann is a So­cial Se­cu­rity spokesper­son.

So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medi­care have a few things in com­mon. Both pro­grams help safe­guard mil­lions of Amer­i­cans as well as im­prove the qual­ity of life for our fam­ily and friends. Although both pro­grams are house­hold names, many peo­ple may not be fa­mil­iar with the de­tails of Medi­care.

Medi­care is our coun­try’s health in­sur­ance pro­gram for peo­ple age 65 or older. The pro­gram helps with the cost of health care, but it doesn’t cover all med­i­cal ex­penses or the cost of most longterm care. You have choices for how you get Medi­care cov­er­age. If you choose to have orig­i­nal Medi­care cov­er­age, you can buy a Medi­care sup­ple­ment pol­icy (called Medi­gap) from a pri­vate in­sur­ance com­pany to cover some of the costs that Medi­care does not. Medi­care has four parts:

Medi­care Part A (hospi­tal in­sur­ance) helps pay for in­pa­tient care in a hospi­tal or skilled nurs­ing fa­cil­ity (fol­low­ing a hospi­tal stay). Part A also pays for some home health care and hospice care.

Medi­care Part B (med­i­cal in­sur­ance) helps pay for ser­vices from doc­tors and other health care providers, out­pa­tient care, home health care, durable med­i­cal equip­ment, and some pre­ven­tive ser­vices.

Medi­care Part C (Medi­care Ad­van­tage) in­cludes all ben­e­fits and ser­vices cov­ered un­der Part A and Part B. Some plans in­clude Medi­care pre­scrip­tion drug cov­er­age (Medi­care Part D) and other ex­tra ben­e­fits and ser­vices.

Medi­care Part D (Medi­care pre­scrip­tion drug cov­er­age) helps cover the cost of pre­scrip­tion drugs. Some peo­ple with limited re­sources and in­come may also be able to get Ex­tra Help with the costs — monthly pre­mi­ums, an­nual de­ductibles, and pre­scrip­tion co-pay­ments — re­lated to a Medi­care pre­scrip­tion drug plan. The Ex­tra Help is es­ti­mated to be worth about $4,900 per year. You must meet the re­sources and in­come re­quire­ment.

Medi­care’s dif­fer­ent parts are fur­ther ex­plained in our pub­li­ca­tion at www. so­cialse­cu­

If you can’t af­ford to pay your Medi­care pre­mi­ums and other med­i­cal costs, you may be able to get help from your state. States of­fer pro­grams for peo­ple el­i­gi­ble for or en­ti­tled to Medi­care who have low in­come. Some pro­grams may pay for Medi­care pre­mi­ums and some pay Medi­care de­ductibles and coin­sur­ance. To qual­ify, you must have Medi­care Part A and have limited in­come and re­sources.

You can learn more about Medi­care, in­clud­ing how to ap­ply for Medi­care and get a re­place­ment Medi­care card, at www. so­cialse­cu­­e­fits/medi­care.

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