People on Medicare often wish it covered more things, like routine dental care, vision, and hearing expenses. You probably know the “mainstream” things that Medicare covers. Part A helps to pay for hospitalization and other inpatient care. Part B can help with some outpatient expenses, like visits to the doctor’s office.
You might be surprised to discover some services and goods you can get through Medicare, either through “traditional Medicare,” or as part of optional coverage, like a Medicare Advantage (also called Medicare Part C) or a Medigap plan. You might not know that Medicare covers these things:
- Deductibles and coinsurance (through a Medigap plan or some Medicare Advantage plans)
- Prescription drugs (through Medicare Part D for people who choose traditional Medicare or through some Medicare Advantage plans)
- Canes, wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, hospital beds, patient lifts, traction equipment, oxygen equipment, blood glucose monitors, and other durable medical equipment for home use (through Medicare Part B)
- A limited-duration stay in a certified skilled nursing facility for medically-necessary care (for example, after surgery). Medicare does not, however, pay for long-term care in a nursing home.
- Some home health care, if you are homebound and your doctor tells Medicare that your condition requires at home care.
- Annual wellness care visits to your doctor – usually with no copay or deductible.
- Smoking cessation counseling.
- Physical therapy and chiropractic care. Some Medicare Advantage plans also cover regular trips to the chiropractor.
You Have Dozens of Medicare Plan Options
When you were working, your employer might have offered health insurance coverage. Employer-provided group health insurance usually gives you around three to five plans to choose from, depending on the level of coverage you want and can afford.
When you sign up for Medicare, you will have so many choices that most people find the decision-making process overwhelming. The coverage options vary from state to state, but between traditional Medicare (Parts A and B), Part D (prescription drug coverage), Medigap, numerous private Medicare Advantage plans with different companies, and other Medicare supplement plans, you might have 50, 60, or more Medicare plan options.
The monthly premium costs, copays, deductibles, and coverage of goods and services will vary from one plan to the next, so read the policy summaries carefully before committing to a plan. Some Medicare plans might cover expenses not discussed in this article. Some even cover the routine dental, vision, and hearing services that traditional Medicare does not.
Medicare – It’s Not Only for People 65+
If you have a loved one who does not yet qualify for Medicare by age, she might qualify for another reason. If her condition makes it impossible for her to support herself through gainful employment, she might be eligible for Medicare. People in these three categories can get Medicare Parts A and B before the age of 65:
- People getting Social Security Disability benefits for at least two years.
- People with a qualifying mental illness, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, or some other long-term medical condition.
- People with end-stage renal disease (kidney failure) or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease).
The Medicare options are different in every state, as are the laws. Talk with an elder law attorney near you about how the options and regulations in your state might vary from the general law discussed in this article.
Senior Advice. “Five Things that Medicare Might Pay for That Will Make Life Easier for Seniors.” (accessed August 2, 2018) https://www.senioradvice.com/articles/five-things-that-medicare-might-pay-for-that-will-make-life-easier-for-seniors
Bankrate. “7 little-known facts about Medicare.” (accessed August 2, 2018) https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/little-known-facts-medicare-1.aspx#slide=8